BumperNets is a top-notch fulltime club complete with three tables and dedicated coaching staff (their head coach Keith Evans was coach to the Jamaican Olympic team as well as a coach to Texas Wesleyan University, the winningest school in college table tennis). It is also, as marketed on their website, “America’s First Table Tennis Store.”
Besides table tennis, there are arcade games, pool, foosball, and more on the premises as well as
an opportunity to purchase all the equipment of said sports and games.
Located in Birmingham, Alabama in the Riverchase Galleria Mall for a little over two decades, BumperNets is the passion project of owner Homer Brown. “It has been a great experience to be able to promote a sport that I have loved for many years every day on stage in a great mall 7 days a week and at least 75 hours a week sharing it with many hundreds of customers,” Brown remarks. “It has been a real challenge but self-rewarding to see customers fall in love with the sport daily and see players grow up and also get better.”
Brown is a Senior Olympic Gold medalist and has made it his mission to be as active as possible in table tennis for himself and others. Just last year he made his 51st consecutive US Open appearance! Also, according to Brown, BumperNets is the 8th table tennis club he has initiated.
For close to 2 months, due to the coronavirus pandemic, BumperNets has had to shut down along with the whole mall in which it resides. Everybody is eager to get back to playing their favorite Olympic sport and the question of how to prepare for the “new normal” upon reopening has weighed greatly on Brown. He hopes that everything will run smoothly but is prepared to sanitize the more than 100 objects that one might touch in his store and club, from paddles to balls and more.
“We will hope that customers will be wearing masks and rubber gloves when they come in to play or to shop,” Brown states. And rightfully so, as more and more clubs around the nation are tentatively getting closer to reopening and testing out social distancing protocol, everyone needs to do their part.
In the meantime, while they are still shut down, Brown maintains contact with BumperNets’ large Facebook group of almost 22,000 followers. They also take out advertisements in the local state area as well. Their official website also keeps followers up to speed with tournaments and other events in the near future.
Brown has a few wise words to impart about the positive aspects of table tennis, especially during the COVID-19 crisis:
“…we are very fortunate to have a lifetime sport that can be played both inside
or outside at anytime and we all need to just make it happen during these uncertain times.
We also need to remember it is such a good sport to release stress and one thing that I always
found that the sport has done for me has been that it takes my mind off daily life issues.”
As the world slowly reopens the midst of this pandemic, less stress is the way to go. Best of luck to BumperNets as they await a safe return to business and play.