Chip has been a mainstay of the western Pa Table Tennis community for over 30 years. He is widely considered the premiere coach in our region, one of the top players in the region and state, and serves as outlet for Butterfly equipment. He has won numerous USATT titles over the years. Chip was formally trained by Pgh legend Dan Seemiller, along with Dan’s brother Randy and Mike Walk. Chip is known for his great ball control and steady all-around game. We asked this player to share his thoughts with us.
Chip, how did you come to decide to take up the sport? I started playing at the local YMCA
When did you start, and where? I was introduced to the game when I was 14. But I didn’t start playing until I was 16, again at the YMCA with Stan Carrington
Who were your heroes or greatest influences? I grew up in the 80’s so Danny is my hero but Eric Boggan is my idol. My greatest influence by far is Stan Carrington. He was my first coach, longtime club president and everyone’s best friend in Pittsburgh table tennis.
What was pong like locally and nationally when you started? Locally not much has changed except the players. Always a active group. Nationally there was Danny and everyone else. He was the man
How has the sport changed since you started? Locally, nationally, internationally? I would say that the equipment has changed the sport the most. The new blades and rubber out there now really level the playing field. These changes brought about more aggressive techniques. For example, the Sriver, Mark V rubber were not designed to reloop balls off the bounce or flip serves like you can with the new tension rubbers.
What were your favorite personal moments in the sport? Getting to the 2000 level was a goal growing up and I’m proud to have done that. I have had many great wins that no one who reads this would know, but winning 7 state double titles with my friend Randy Seemiller ranks up there. What advantages + disadvantages does a Seemiller-grip player such as yourself possess? Seemiller style players have a dominant forehand due to the ” Western style grip” we use. Pushing and blocking are also advantages. The biggest disadvantage is the backhand. Again, the new technology allows the shakehand player 2 wings of offense where as we have one. I will add though that our style is better for pushing and blocking which will get you to your potential sooner… oh and we have anti!
What do you think the sport needs to grow? In the U.S, we need sponsorship. Major sponsors who have the influence to get on T.V. And we need to get exposure in the schools. It’s tough to get anyone to listen. I think you have some experience with that.
What can our region do to advance the sport? One of the ideas I’m working on right now is approaching already successful sport/ club associations and running group table tennis clinics. I believe the summer sports, baseball, soccer and the like would greatly improve their sports skills by learning our sports skills. Kinda like cross training.
Have to ask. How many times have you played Randy Seemiller and Mike Walk? Who owns bragging rights? Well, a lot. Randy has all bragging rights. Mike and I are about as equal as we can be but he has a lot of early career wins.
Let’s talk about your coaching. Any best stories to share, such as successes? Well again, all credit goes to all three Seemillers. I’m happy to pass along what I have learned primarily from them. Danny keeps is simple because it’s tough enough to learn already. No best stories really. I have been lucky enough to coach players from 8 to 78. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did and continue to.
What do you look for most in a student? Technically I look for their strengths first and work on the shortcomings later. But I’m trying to figure out if they have the same intensity to learn that I did.
Greatest frustration when coaching? Most new people to the game don’t understand the importance of moving their feet. I can help their swing but I can’t move their feet for them.
General advice for: beginner, intermediate, and advanced player? Remember, the object of the game is to keep the ball on the table. While the sport is technical, you have to develop your own style and not necessarily the one you see on videos or in tournaments. Lastly, most of us will not be the next world champion so relax and enjoy the game!
Last, tell us a little more about your hobbies. What else occupies your time and interest? I am a very happy and active person. I enjoy golf, bowling and softball and will do any of those when I’m not playing pong!