For about 10 years I believed I was destined to be an Olympic table tennis player. I envisioned my gold medal showdown against a Chinese competitor and dreamed of standing on the podium while The Star-Spangled Banner played on the loudspeakers. Would I mouth the words while the cameras zoomed in? Yes. Would I cry? No. Perhaps my family would; maybe I would if my agent thought it’d help land endorsements. Janesville would throw a parade for me, or at least make me a grandmaster for the Hay Daze festivities. I’d tour as some type of ping-pong prodigy, taking on all comers in a barnstorming tour across Minnesota — no, across America.
“And now I’ll take on the Iowa state champion…with my left hand!”
This dream started when I was 8 and only ended when I was about 18. What fueled it? My savant-like skills as a young ping-pong player, when I ruled in our basement and also captured a pair of highly prestigious Waseca County titles, each time defeating adult competitors who believed their victories over Grandpa Joe in the garage meant they could beat this 9-year-old phenom. And when I dominated during our table tennis unit in our high school phy ed class — and managed to defeat our previously invincible teacher — then I knew for sure gold was in my future.