Andy lives in Boynton Beach, Florida, just north of Miami. He attended a local community college where he earned every CISCO networking and computer programming certificate that was ever offered. Eventually, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in network security from Phoenix University. He said he went into IT because most people assumed that he knows a lot about IT just by looking at him.
Andy started his career out of high school working as a lab assistant in the ESL learning lab making $6.50 an hour. He never quit his employer. After 10 promotions, he gradually worked his way up to Information Technology Network Security Administrator (IT NSA) for the whole campus. He says he got his job because everybody else moved on and went somewhere else. Besides technology, he says he loves helping foreign people learn how to speak English. A few years ago, he earned his certificate in Teaching English As a Second Language (TESOL). After countless unsuccessful attempts to “break into” the ESL teaching industry, he had no luck landing any kind of employment. Andy never gave up, and he eventually got lucky. After three years of sending resumes and cover letters, he landed a part-time volunteer internship as an ESL teaching assistant at the same community college where he works.
Andy has a passion for teaching. In his former life, he was a free-lance on-line chess instructor. Especially, he enjoyed teaching for kids with disabilities since he liked to push people outside of their “comfort zone.” After getting bored and giving up on trying to teach chess , Andy decided to try something else. He couldn’t think of anything until he watched the movie Forrest Gump. That movie inspired him to start the table tennis (ping pong) club at his community college. Initially, the club consisted of one old ping pong table in a game room and Andy. Whenever people came to use the game room, Andy told them that it was “ping pong club” time and they would just have to play a game with him. Andy tried his best to promote the club, but it seemed like nobody cared about ping-pong, and nobody really cared about Andy, for that mater. Andy was not an artist, but somehow he managed to paint what were supposed to look like ping pong tables on giant pieces of poster board. He would hang these posters all over buildings on campus after going through a lengthy, bureaucratic approval process. He also printed thousands of fliers and attached them to bulletin boards, lunch tables, and even lamp posts. He advertised free cookies, milk, and chocolates on the fliers in order to entice people to come and join the club. The goodies were not free for Andy who spent his meager earnings as a lab assistant just so he could get people to come join the club. All he really wanted was to make some friends and get people to play ping pong with him. Many times, people would just come for the free food, and they would not even play with Andy.
Again, Andy didn’t give up. He worked relentlessly towards earning a prestigious reputation the club. Even when it rained, he would stand by himself outside the student union building (SUB). Many times, he would show off his skills by bouncing a ping pong ball with his paddle. Through the top of his lungs he would yell, “Ping Pong Anyone!” Slowly, but surely, people would come to the club either to play pong, get free food or just look at Andy for the sake of entertainment. As more people joined the club, Andy managed to move the table from the basement in the SUB to the student gym and even convince the community college to pay for a second table. When the manager of the student gym asked Andy when he was planning to graduate, Andy smiled and said, “As long as there is a table tennis club here, I’ll never graduate!” After five years, the club grew to its peak size of 50 registered members and over 300 people on Andy’s e-mail list. He communicated with the club members by sending a weekly President’s newsletter with different events that the club was involved with. Besides ping pong, Andy would organize lunches at restaurants. Eventually, other people got involved and invited Andy to host parties at their houses for the club. Andy managed to upgrade the club’s status from official student organization (OSO) to a sports official student organization (SOSO). As a SOSO, the table tennis club was entitled to an annual budget of $200, which could be used to buy balls and pay for dues of the College Table Tennis League (CTTL). Andy would also organize various fundraising events. He even convinced several members of the club to volunteer as telemarketers on behalf of the community college’s alumni association. For all their hard, they were awarded a coupon to get a burrito from Chipotle. Another time, he got a lot of people to show up to sell parking tickets at a basketball game. Andy was trying really hard to raise money to pay for more tables since the tables the club had were very old, and the college refused to pay for more. After three years, Andy managed to raise enough funds to purchase five brand new table tennis tables and even a machine that would spit out ping pong balls. Andy believes in what he does with a passion. He thinks there is a real difference between regular ping pong and professional table tennis, which is a real Olympic sport.
While most club members don’t realize this, he has been President of the Club for the past 12 years, and many don’t even know his name. Sadly, they don’t appreciate his efforts to help the team qualify for “Nationals” and take Andy for granted. His USATT (legit) ping pong rating is still 1100, which he says is good enough to beat most garage players. Sometimes, he complains that it’s nowhere near to earning real respect at the club level. Andy does not like to live life with regrets. However, he is sorry that he never managed to find a girlfriend after so many of years of ping pong clubbin’. He blames this on bad luck and his inability to learn more than two words of Chinese besides “ping” and “pong.” Recently, Andy’s luck changed for the better, or so he thinks. He subscribed to a foreign bride service. He is firmly convinced that “love has no borders” and that he has to “engage the exotic.” His latest game-plan is to go to Colombia. He is excited about a recent e-mail that he received. Apparently, his profile won the romance on-line sweepstakes, and he was selected as a special VIP guest on a marriage tour. He hopes to find a foreign bride who wants to be his ping pong doubles partner for life. He really believes she will see past his “US citizenship” and love him for his ping pong potential, dashing good looks, and wonderful, “easy to get along with” personality.