Trent Grove Sr. was the guy to beat. At least according Nick O'Brien, he was.
The youth group at Corpus Christi Parish – Immaculate Conception Church engineered a ping-pong tournament to raise money for families in Staten Island, N.Y., who lost their homes during last month's superstorm Sandy.
Sister Susan Brown, a teacher from St. Joseph by the Sea School in Staten Island, said 30 students' families and seven teachers lost their homes. Money raised during the tournament was to go directly to aid these stranded families in New York.
The sound of clicking of ping-pong balls echoed in the basement stairwell last Sunday as about 70 young and old parishioners played ping pong.
Students paid $10 per team and adults paid $20 to enter.
It was the kids' idea, said Juel Anne Klepadlo, the church's youth group leader.
What started as an idea for a weekend tournament grew into a means to raise money for St. Joseph by the Sea.
As she paced back and forth, ticking off teams on her tournament bracket, Klepadlo estimated they had raised about $300.
Immaculate Conception is Brown's home church. She sat with her mother, Ellen, who attends the church. Brown said last year when the flooding Susquehanna destroyed many parishioners' homes, her students raised relief money.
She spoke of the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy. Homes built bordering school property were virtually destroyed, and yet the school remained intact except for downed trees.
Still, many students' families have been left stranded.
Brown lived in Wyoming Valley during the 1972 Agnes Flood but had not seen anything like what moved through New York.
Wind and water had dropped eight boats in a student's back yard and the gasoline from the boats get was treasured.
A guy from the school who lives in New Jersey would fill a five-gallon can and bring it in every day, giving a little to each teacher so they could get home from school and come back the next day, Brown said.
Brown said the church took up a second collection that morning just for the school and people had been approaching her with money all day.
Before the tournament started, Brown already had about $2,000 to take back to the families.
As ping-pong balls flew, O'Brien sat flipping his paddle eyeing the competition.
If Trent Grove Sr. doesn't take this, Jake Wysocki is his closest competition, he said, nodding to his grinning teammate sitting nearby.
Doesn't matter who his partner is, he's going to take over anyway.
The two laughed at the idea. Later, Grove Sr. denied being the guy to beat, but said he was going to get in on the action anyway.
30 students' families and seven teachers from St. Joseph by the Sea School in Staten Island lost their homes.