The Sky High Table Tennis Club is a part-time facility located at Beck Recreation in Aurora, Colorado. Although not currently open due to the pandemic, the club typically runs on Sunday from 12pm-5pm. The star-studded coaching staff and members take full advantage of the 11 Joola tables and time allotted.
Coaches include Joola sponsored Richard McAfee, well known in table tennis circles as a USATT Certified National Coach, ITTF Course Conductor and Trainer for Level 1,2,3; and two-time USA Olympian and former 3-time US Men’s Champion Timothy Wang. Rounding out the team are former Russian and Belarusian National Team Member Tatsiana Malakhave, and ITTF Level 2 coach Peter Christofolo.
When asked how his club is faring during the pandemic, Coach McAfee stated, “We rent gym space at the local recreation center so in many ways we are not as badly financially affected by the current shutdown as the full- time clubs are.”
He did, however, note that it’s hard not having a constant connection amongst all members and staff of his club, especially during these uncertain times when social distancing must be the new normal to survive.
Coach McAfee also stressed the resourcefulness of adapting instruction using the technology at hand.
“I am part of a group, led by Christian Lillieroos, who is working on developing new on-line, USATT Coaching Certification Courses. We hope to have the first level available next Month. I believe that we will see a big increase in on-line lessons and other training programs over the next year. In this way, the COVID-19 shutdown may be a blessing in disguise.”
Hopefully, as with all other clubs out there, the Sky High TTC will be open once the pandemic subsides and it is safe to return to our favorite Olympic sport. Occurring August 8-9 the club is going to put on a high-caliber tournament, The Joola Rocky Mountain Table Tennis Team Challenge, using 24 tables at the Colorado Athletic Club. Coach Mcafee says the event’s design will be structured with the new Olympic Team Format and there’s $5000 in prize money up for grabs (Omnipong.com is how you sign up for those interested).
During this waiting game, Coach McAfee has had his share of waxing nostalgic through 55+ years of table tennis experience. You can see amazing memories he posts on his Facebook page, from coaching in Brunei, India, Atlanta and so much more. Sky High TTC is an important facet but one of several unique experiences he has had during his life.
As he reflects on his past during a time of physical ponging inactivity, he also observes that many domestic and international students of his have communicated with him to make sure he and his wife were doing well.
“It has been a very heartwarming experience to have them reach out to us. As a Coach, I always try to make sure that my student’s time spent with me is a positive one. Sport is a “school of life” and it is important that each athlete learn how to be successful in both sport and life,” remarked Coach McAfee.
Those nuggets of wisdom are already enough for me, but Coach McAfee has some more suggestions for how to better oneself while table tennis is at a standstill:
“One of the best things that everyone, athlete, and coach, can do right now is to plan. Work with your coach to set goals for the next year and plan to achieve your goals. Regardless of your age or playing level, having a written training plan will help you improve and get the most enjoyment out of the game.”
We wish Coach McAfee and the rest of the coaching staff and members of Sky High Table Tennis Club a safe return to the tables once the time comes.