Outré Beginnings for Robinson’s Burgeoning Table Tennis Club

Table tennis club leader Natham Pham shares the tumultuous experience of the club’s foundation.


Photo Samuel Elliott

Table Tennis club founder Nathan Pham poses with the tools of his trade.

Samuel Elliott, Print Managing Editor

One of the more notable clubs to make its introduction this year is the Table Tennis club, led by Robinson senior Nathan Pham. His infectious enthusiasm for the sport, unrelenting commitment to realizing his dreams, and the unique circumstances surrounding the club’s introduction make for one of the more interesting additions to the Robinson club roster this year. RHSToday sat down with him a few days ago at lunch to find out more about why everyone’s talking about the Table Tennis club this club season.

“Yeah, so.. I mean I originally started this as a joke; I knew that there’s just the same types of clubs here and I wanted to offer some nuance, and variety. I also noticed that the same people who did key club were the same people who did SGA, who were the same people who did NHS, etc. So I wanted an opportunity to break the circle. I wanted a club that was something purely non-educational. I wanted to emphasize that to the max; you go there, you play ping-pong, and you get out. Its just a completely fun club, no educational bits whatsoever.”

Yet Pham’s confidence was soon put to the test: being the only “fun” club in the roster, the concept attracted a startling amount of interest.

“Currently in the Remind right now, I think there are like sixty-nine people. I was planning on carrying sixty-four; assuming that we could get the gym. That’s the integral part of our plan, that’s what everything depends on.”

Definitely more than expected, considering the relatively niche nature of the sport. However the ping-pong practitioner has found some benefits in the profuse of participants; to help manage the act of transporting the three (possibly eight, if plans follow through) tennis-tables, some members have stepped in to transport them in their pick-up trucks.

“I totally did not expect this. There’s a whole web of people I can rely on; it’s not just me. People were more than willing to help, and I really enjoy having such a network of supporters. I didn’t expect that.”

Given the rather abrupt beginning to this year’s club season, many students have come into conflict with administration regarding the creation and operation of their clubs. Pham has stated in the past that he attempted to start the club multiple times in the last two years, but to no avail. But his relentless commitment, coupled with the assistance of a few key members of administration, has allowed things to push through in the end.

“Well.. *haha*, I don’t want to throw the administration under the bus or anything… At first I was upset, under the impression that they were trying to stifle any new clubs. But I had to have some empathy, and I realized that they faced tremendous budget cuts; a lot of staff got cut completely. Mrs. Morman was tremendous in helping us, and given what they have I think they’re doing the best they can.”

As such, it looks like things are set to go go for one of Robinson’s most unique clubs to start paddling away. But the future remains uncertain: this is Pham’s final year at Robinson high school, and his absence would leave the club without their most crucial contributor and founder. Yet even still, he has big plans to keep the spirit of the club alive for years to come:

“At first I thought this was just going to be a one-off… a one year club, but I’m going to try my best to find an enthusiastic successor. I do want to perpetuate this club; I think what it stands for can bring something great to Robinson for years to come.”