Turkey With a Side of Ping-Pong



Thanksgiving is typically a time for big family gatherings and a classic Thanksgiving dinner. However, sophomore Darren Chang does not participate in a traditional Thanksgiving celebration. On Thanksgiving Day, Chang goes on a two-hour car ride to northern Indiana where he participates in the Butterfly Thanksgiving Open, a ping-pong tournament. Chang has participated since the competition started three years ago.

“This competition is actually a team competition with different teams of three to five people competing against each other in a team tie; it’s round-robin competition, meaning that there’s a couple of groups, and each team is presorted, and they play against each other to see who will have the best win and loss record to determine the placing,” Chang said.

The players are ranked on a national rating system, according to Chang, and the teams are then sorted into groups according to their ranking.

“I’m [ranked] 1916; a nationally ranked player, someone who would play for the Olympic team, would be about a 2600,” he said.

Although the tournament begins on Nov. 28, the Chang family drives up to the competition site a few days earlier, which this year is in Hobart, to see the playing conditions as well as meet with coaches and friends. As for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, Chang said they usually just stop at a fast-food restaurant.

Chang said, “In general, we’ve never had turkey anyways, but it’s affected us in that we don’t have a large Thanksgiving dinner or a huge family gathering. For Thanksgiving dinner, we usually just eat whatever we can find. One time, it was Subway, and last year, it was probably Burger King. It’s pretty sad, but we get used to it.”

However, lacking a traditional Thanksgiving celebration, Chang said he enjoys going to ping-pong competitions more than he would a typical Thanksgiving family gathering.

“I prefer going to ping-pong competitions,” Chang said. “I enjoy seeing my coach and seeing other players that we’ve known for years and years and competed on circuits together with, and I hope to enjoy the experience and play well. My mom and dad both go with us; my dad coaches me sometimes along with other people, and my mom is there for moral and emotional support. It’s definitely a little different compared to most families, but all in all it’s a good experience that our family goes through.”