(for detailed club history/ information from 1998-2004 -
see the yearly news page's - starting at the homepage link to NEWS - Connecticut Table Tennis Background: )
How and when were the clubs founded?
The Middletown Club was founded by Normand Chouinard of Waterbury in about 1991.
Norm, who also was a prominent tournament promoter, began the NorthEast Table Tennis Association (NETTA), with the intent to developed a network of clubs in Southern New England, particularly Connecticut.
The Middletown TTC actually started by meeting as a combined youth and adult club at the New Britain Boys & Girls Club, then moved to the larger Gym at Riverview Hospital in Middletown in the 1992 with assistance from RCH staff and administration there including Rich Daley and Rick Nelson.
In addition to the fledgling Middletown club, Norm also began arrangements for two other club locations,
in Danbury and Hamden, in 1993, while taking on responsibilities as the TT event coordinator
for the upcoming '94 Special Olympics World Games in New Haven.
As he saw that these responsibilities, along with a new Family, his career in Banking
and volunteer work in his local parish were overextending him, he decided to seek
out a successor to carry forward his plan for a coordinated network of clubs.
So he conducted a national search within the US Table Tennis Community for someone
to expand the Middletown club and Open additional clubs in Hamden, Danbury and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Dave Strang of Akron, Ohio who had run clubs and tournaments in N.E. OHIO before taking on a Marketing Position in Michigan with a national TT equipment distributor, wanted to return to more direct participation in promoting the sport through clubs and coaching.
When Norm and Dave talked and saw that their intentions and situations were
complimentary, Norm offered Dave the position as director of NETTA .
Norm proposed to use club revenues from playing fees, instruction, equipment sales etc, to fund a modest salary for the position, starting with his promise of a minimum $300 per week guaranteed for the first few months after Dave relocated as the new club locations opened.
To keep playing fees low, while providing players with professional quality tables,
playing conditions and club promotion, the clubs would use Gyms provided by
public and private organizations, with modest nightly playing fees paying for club equipment,
(now over 22 tables and nets plus barriers 'Newgy' Robots and other equipment,)
along with covering a portion of the salary for it's director, who would also depend on
revenues from other services and sales as compensation for his time, efforts and
NETTA would seek under-used facilities and offer a financially self-supporting,
hassle-free complete public recreation program with the host facility needing only
to supply space for table storage and a few hours of gym time twice a week.
NETTA provides all club equipment, organization, supervision and promotion.
NETTA provides Dave as the club director with 25 years background playing, coaching
and promoting table tennis and an earned Masters and undergraduate degrees in Sports
and recreation Administration and the Association provides Liability coverage for
potential participant losses or injuries.
By operating a coordinated network of clubs, schedules are complimentary, allowing
many players to participate in any or all club locations to accommodate personal
schedules and desired weekly playing frequency.
Time, labor and expenses, such as equipment purchasing, website costs and promotional activities can be shared as well.
Starting with the Middletown club, Dave Strang, would
open club sites in strategically placed locations to make quality club table
tennis accessible to residents of as many areas of Connecticut as possible.
NETTA/Connecticut TT Clubs first (and current) location, in Middletown is at Riverview Hospital, a state operated residential facility operated by the department of children and families, providing housing, care and an education for at risk youth from 5-17 having special needs in the areas of emotional and social adjustment.
In addition to creating and providing a public recreation opportunity during available Gym time, NETTA/CT TT association has trained, and sometimes directly assisted, Riverview's rehabilitation and recreation department staff in basic table tennis instruction for the children, and provided table tennis tables for hospital and school use in the Gym and living unit areas and provided additional equipment and supplies such as rackets, net sets, balls and videos and other learning materials.
While the sport did quickly become very popular with the staff and kids at Riverview Hospital, the Middletown Club initially struggled with small turnouts of 4 to 8 players per week during it's first six years from 1993 to1999, partly due to competing clubs in Hartford which have since closed.. But Dave found players and income elsewhere and hung on in Middletown, not wanting to give up on the beautiful facilities in a great location, easily accessible to most of Central Connecticut. Eventually, from 2000 to present the Middletown program has grown, player by player, in popularity to the point where twice weekly summer turnouts of 15-20 and winter turnouts of 20-30 players of all ages and skill levels per session now enjoy the twice weekly sessions. on as many as 14 tables on the busiest nights.
While arrangements for the Danbury location fell through due to an ill-timed management
reorganization at the hoped for hosting organization, Dave opened the Hamden club in
early 1994 with 6 tables meeting twice weekly in a Gym provided by the town.
The Hamden and Middletown clubs were joined in about 1994-95 as NETTA associated programs by an after school and Saturday morning club in Fairhaven organized by Dave and local youth services advocate Peter Noble at 'Centro San Jose'. Dave and Peter continued the program for 4-5 years at Centro San Jose and then under Pequenas Ligas Hispanicos at other Fairhaven schools and civic organizations.
Peter continues the program, and other youth sports, at the Amistad Academy in New Haven
It was recognized for excellence in 1997 with a grant from USA Table Tennis and
by articles in the Yale campus newspaper and a prominent Connecticut Hispanic Newspaper.
About that time, the Hamden club relocated to Woodbridge for a two year period working with the New Haven Jewish Community Center at it's (now closed) Tennis Club.
Thanks to the NH JCC and especially Leon Weinberg for generous help in founding that club and for Leon's support for Norm's previous efforts including the Special Olympics.
Reflecting his focus on Connecticut, and the handover of all club responsibilities from Norm, Dave has began identifying the organization as 'Connecticut Table Tennis' or CT TT Association rather than NETTA in most situations.
With critical assistance from a local table tennis enthusiast who also became Dave's
student Howard S____ -(web privacy) , Connecticut
TT opened the Fairfield club , started in about 1996 in cooperation with the
town Recreation department and hosted at the Fairfield Senior Center's Gym
Ongoing efforts to start additional clubs are in progress including especially in the Danbury, Waterbury and Stamford areas.
NETTA/CT TT has had a long relationship with organizations like Connecticut Senior Games and it's members have supported Special Olympics and done table tennis demonstrations and exhibitions at locations including The Westfield Connecticut Post Mall in Milford, The Health and Fitness Expo and the Notre Dame High School in West Haven.
Promotional activities have also included bringing Olympian Sean O'Neill and Scott Priess for club and clinics and demonstrations and TV news features and the 1999-2000 CT Championships were shown on Middletown area cable access TV.
The Web presence, established by Dave in 1996 with help from a former club member,
was one of the first TT clubs with it's own website, earning a prominent
location in web-searches to this day.
The primary website has expanded, but remained at it's Tripod.com location to retain prior links and it's popularity with search engines.
For ease of 'referral/' memory' a new 'front-door' to the Connecticut Site, and also to Dave's remaining club in Akron, Ohio has been established at 'www.REALtabletennis.com.
The growing CT TT website includes a News-page updated on a monthly, and sometimes weekly, basis with International, US and local table tennis news.
The club also maintains a voicemail type telephone number for 24/7 schedule and location information at (203)66O-1366 (NEW # July 2008) and instant response e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org , particularly to inform new players of our club times and locations.