Students battle ping pong in the commons


Ananya Bhatt

Students gather in Newton commons to watch the ongoing match between seniors Utkarsh Goyal and Manav Barath in the morning before 5th period starts. Ever since winter break, Goyal has been bringing in ping pong paddles and a net, starting a routine activity between him and his friends. “I was looking for a spot to play, realized some set of tables was perfect, and pretty much started from there,” Goyal said.

Ananya Bhatt, Staff Writer

Going through the commons in the mornings, some Jefferson students study for tests, others finish up last-minute homework, and a handful of lucky students chat with their friends. However, if one were to pass by Newton commons, they would see something out of the ordinary: senior Utkarsh Goyal and several others engaging in a tournament of ping pong. 

Goyal, a recreational ping pong player, has made his interest come to life in school by sharing it with his classmates.

“I started playing over quarantine mainly for fun, but I tried playing competitively junior year,” Goyal said.

Deemed “the perfect spot,” the signature red tables found in many of the commons can be pushed together and transformed into a ping pong table, with a cluster of students watching and cheering on the side.

“Everyone’s coming together in school to play it, and it seems like the higher skilled players have been influencing those who hadn’t played before,” Goyal said.

Goyal received his portable ping pong set, which includes two paddles and a portable net, as a birthday gift earlier this school year. However, ping pong only became a regular occurrence after winter break. 

[Ping pong] is a good way to make friends. I feel like it’s become a community.

— Utkarsh Goyal, 12

“I realized I could literally just put [my ping pong set] over any table and start playing,” Goyal said. 

The popularity of the activity grew quickly afterwards, with others who enjoyed the sport also bringing paddles in order to join in. Goyal expressed surprise at how quickly it caught on, as he had originally expected it to stick only to his friend group.

“I didn’t really think that people would care, but it helped other people play when we played doubles,” Goyal said.

Even though the activity initially started out with just Goyal and his friends in the mornings, it now reaches many students. The games even stretch between classes, with freshmen and seniors alike playing against each other. 

“There’s a lot of interesting people I’ve come to know from this,” Goyal said.

Other times to catch and participate in the games are during lunch in Curie commons and occasionally during 8th periods. 

“It’s a good way to make friends. I feel like it’s become a community,” Goyal said. “There’s some people in 11th grade and 12th grade that I’ve never heard of, and now I know them because of ping pong.”