How One Woman Brought Ping Pong — And Feminism — To Work


Kinsey Crowley is 23 years previous. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. She works in partnerships for the Wing, a co-working and neighborhood house for girls. And he or she loves ping pong.

“Oh, I’ve, like, so many issues to say about ping pong,” she says.

Lately, Kinsey has began to see ping pong as one thing greater than only a sport performed in basements and rec rooms.

“I do know that sounds form of loopy, however for me it has been — ping pong has turn into a small type of feminist resistance for me,” Kinsey says.

“We had a table at highschool, and I might play. And even when I might beat a man, he’d say, ‘Properly, you’re fairly good for a woman.’ And, you realize, again then, I’m unsure I might have labeled myself as a feminist. However in fact it made me offended. As a result of I used to be good, and I didn’t need to be downgraded simply because I used to be a woman.”

The Finest In Delaware

Kinsey had a superb cause for feeling that approach. She realized how you can play ping pong from her mother who, based on household lore, was as soon as the “best in Delaware.” Kinsey didn’t fairly consider that — till someday, final fall.

“She despatched me a information clipping that I had by no means seen earlier than,” Kinsey says. “And he or she’s the quilt photograph. Simply clearly smashing a cross-table ball.”

(Courtesy Kinsey Crowley)
(Courtesy Kinsey Crowley)

The 12 months was 1977. The small information merchandise accompanying that photograph identifies Kinsey’s mom because the winner of the Delaware State Closed Ping Pong Championship in each ladies’s singles and girls’s doubles — with Kinsey’s grandmother as her accomplice.

“So, she has a reasonably epic bowl reduce, and he or she seems actually intense,” Kinsey says. “And her paddle’s up within the air, and the ball is simply going over the net. She’s making an attempt to steadiness, and he or she’s actually intense. Um … and her hair’s simply, you realize … very ’70s. she’s like … it’s an ideal photograph.”

Rising up in Maine, Kinsey says her household was at all times “sport oriented.” They’d play Scrabble. Different board video games. Tennis. However for Kinsey, her brother and her mother, the sport of selection was at all times ping pong.

“I at all times knew when my brother was residence. As a result of I’d are available in, and also you’d hear, you realize, yelling from the basement,” Kinsey says.

When Kinsey went off to varsity, she took her love of ping pong together with her. Every time she grew uninterested in finding out or writing papers, she’d play ping pong. She calls it her “productive procrastination.”

“It’d simply be like hours would go on a Saturday afternoon,” Kinsey remembers. “I’d be down there, like, sweating and taking my sneakers off, so I may transfer aspect to aspect fast sufficient.”

Getting into The Workforce

After school, Kinsey settled in New York. And like a whole lot of current graduates, she was a bit misplaced.

“Positively not ready for actual life, that was for positive,” she says. “The primary few years while you graduate, after you graduate school, are so complicated — and there is a lot to study. And, form of, it uproots every thing you’ve been doing for the final 12 years or 16 years — nonetheless lengthy you’ve been in class.”

Kinsey’s first job was organizing neighborhood occasions in downtown Brooklyn.

“And after I obtained there, they’d just a few concepts in place. And it was my job to execute them,” Kinsey says. “And lo and behold, the primary occasion that they’d deliberate was free outdoor ping pong. And I used to be like, ‘That is excellent. That is going to be a lot enjoyable.’ And it grew to become a operating joke within the firm, as a result of everybody may inform how excited I used to be about it.

4 tables had been arrange within the courtyard of a enterprise heart. DJs offered the music. And, consider it or not, ping pong was an enormous success.

“What was purported to be a four-week occasion turned out to be a four-month occasion, as a result of it ended up being so in style each week,” Kinsey says. “Sixty to 100 folks would come. Everybody from college students to ladies of their pencil skirts and heels, after which there’s folks than are available in sweatband and full athletic gear. Individuals simply strolling by. Individuals who would come out particularly for this occasion each week.”

Kinsey’s subsequent job was at a authorized startup. She was now spending a whole lot of her free time enjoying ping pong. Her coworkers all knew about her interest.

“They’d poke enjoyable at it, like, ‘Oh, its Monday evening, Kenzie’s obtained to run as a result of she has the ping pong league.’ “

(Courtesy Jared Sochinsky/The Push)
(Courtesy Jared Sochinsky/The Push)

On this new surroundings, Kinsey should have thought her days of organizing ping pong tournaments for work had been over.

“It was a very completely different setting,” she says. “We weren’t sitting round brainstorming essentially the most inventive occasion thought we may probably do, however extra stuff that works for our goal market.”

Till someday, when Kinsey and her coworkers had been brainstorming concepts for an upcoming convention in Las Vegas.

A Spot At The Desk

“Commerce reveals are actually aggressive areas, and also you’re making an attempt to do every thing to get your sales space to face out,” Kinsey says. “And I feel it began as a joke. We had been like, ‘Oh, properly, I’m positive Kinsey would find it irresistible if we had ping pong.’ And I used to be like, ‘Ah, yeah. Very humorous.’ And a beat handed. And I used to be like, ‘, its really not the worst thought. Like, I feel we may do it.’ “

They usually did. They rented a table and ordered a bunch of ping pong paddles with their firm brand to go out like enterprise playing cards.

“It was efficient,” Kinsey says. “I imply, there was this huge convention room on the Bellagio. As an alternative of us simply being at our sales space, we form of pushed the counter apart and pulled out this mini ping pong table. And folks would stroll by, and at first they’re like, ‘Is that this a ping pong table at a authorized operations convention?’

“The irony didn’t escape me that I’ve by some means had two jobs since school, and each of them have managed to incorporate ping pong in some type of approach. I laughed at it a bit of bit, however on the within I used to be like, ‘That is superior.’ “

Kinsey playing against her brother at her parents' home in Maine. (Courtesy Kinsey Crowley)
Kinsey enjoying towards her brother at her dad and mom’ residence in Maine. (Courtesy Kinsey Crowley)

And that is the place we get again to that concept of ping pong as a small type of feminist resistance. As a result of in simply her first few years out of school, Kinsey realized one thing: her love of ping pong was serving to her get forward in a aggressive office.

“It’s laborious as a lady to know your value on the market,” Kinsey says. “That is part of how we’re conditioned is that we shouldn’t be aggressive and never step as much as the table and assume, ‘I’m going to beat this particular person throughout the table’ — a convention room table or a ping pong table. Conserving that aggressive aspect of me alive has actually been useful.”

So Kinsey has some recommendation for girls simply popping out of school and setting off on careers for the primary time: Don’t be afraid to convey your passions to work — since you by no means know the place they’re going to steer you.

And yet one more factor: By no means underestimate a lady’s capability — particularly in the case of enjoying ping pong.

“Everybody that I say, ‘Oh yeah, like, I realized to play it from my mother,’ they’re like, ‘Your mother? Your mother performs ping pong?’ So, like, ‘Yeah, she’d in all probability beat you. So watch it.’ “

We first heard of Kinsey Crowley’s ping pong journey in a piece she wrote for ForbesWomen.



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