Bouncing back from season two


By Katelyn O'Callaghan

Eric Lamb playing Table Tennis.

By Katelyn O'Callaghan, Aspen High School

For the past three years, lunchtime ping pong, formally known as the Aspen High School Table Tennis Federation, has been an ongoing lunchtime activity at AHS. All teachers can compete for the ultimate reward of bragging rights… or for Eric Lamb’s first born child.

Lunchtime table tennis has officially been played at AHS for three years. It started when someone from the Aspen Music Festival and School, which uses classrooms for practice during the summer, left a ping pong table in one of the language rooms. At first, the staff put the table in the language kitchen and would only take it out on slow days. However, as more teachers started to play the game, they decided to give it a permanent home in room 1184.

The game is said to be a friendly competition, but some teachers can get competitive. Eric Lamb, a language teacher at AHS, is known to be very invested in the game and take his losses to heart, but recently he has tried to take a less intense approach.

“I used to take it more seriously,” said Lamb, “but after I cried a few times. I decided to scale it back because it definitely would affect me for the rest of the day, sometimes even weeks.”

Everyone who has consistently played has had ups and downs throughout the course of the last two seasons, but have high hopes of improving during the third. Lamb is already thrilled at his progress this year, having beaten some advanced players and refining his forehand spin and chop shot.

AHS Science Teacher Brent Maiolo has been playing since the start of the Table Tennis Federation. He is the only player who has dubbed certain trick shots with their iconic names; this includes the beavertail, the windshield wiper, and the sidewinder. Though he has many stellar shots, he still has aspirations to get better.

“I think I’ve plateaued in my serves,” Maiolo said. “So, it’s one of my goals this season to improve on my serve.”

Although Maiolo is the only player who has named trick shots, each player has named their paddle, which all players received for Christmas from their wives. Lamb’s is called Blue Haze, because of his self-proclamation on how fast he moves when he plays. Maiolo’s has the very original name, Rapture, named after the model of the paddle. Alex Reginelli, who is also a foreign language teacher at AHS, named his paddle Resurrection after his last one was destroyed. Every player says it’s necessary to play with their own paddle because playing with a different one can throw them off their game.

“Each rubber has its own coefficient of friction,” Maiolo said, “It’s physics.”    

Throughout the school year, teaching can get very stressful and overwhelming, but table tennis is a way that teachers can blow off steam and have a good time together. It creates an environment that cultivates positivity.

“Often times when you get people who work together around each other they’ll just complain about work, and so ping pong was a nice way to get people together to do something positive,” said Maiolo, “and I like to watch Eric [Lamb] cry.”

This story was originally published on The Skier Scribbler on October 5, 2018.