Golden Paddle: A tradition like no other

Ernst provides history lesson on the annual tournament

Mr.+Anthony+Ernst%2C+director+of+student+activities%2C+looks+on+as+two+of+the+eight+Golden+Paddle+finalists+compete+during+flex+on+Jan.+28.+

Nic Napier

Mr. Anthony Ernst, director of student activities, looks on as two of the eight Golden Paddle finalists compete during flex on Jan. 28.

Nic Napier , Reporter

As the Winterfest assembly approaches Feb. 1, the school waits to see who will be crowned the Golden Paddle champion. Students may know that this tournament is a school tradition, but they may not know how this competitive event got started.

Mr. Anthony Ernst, director of student activities, wrote in an email, “The Golden Paddle tourney began 11 years ago when Mr. Pat Fagan (former business teacher and current men’s golf coach) and I had explored the ideas of an intramural tournament at Cathedral. We went to Dr. (Thomas) Greer, who was then vice principal of student affairs, with the idea. Dr. Greer loved the idea and encouraged us to go forward with creating a table tennis tourney.

He added that he and Fagan began setting up the tournament, creating brackets and advertising the event. He noted how the first year of the tournament was played only after school and there were 80 students who competed that year.

“As the tournament began Dr. Greer said we would be able to play the finals during the Winterfest assembly. However, we would need a trophy. Dr. Greer and I talked about what that trophy would look like and he was able to secure a trophy base from a closet somewhere. I said, ‘What about naming the trophy the “Golden Paddle,”’ and presented him with a gold spray painted paddle from the SLC. The Golden Paddle was born.”

The tournament this year, as Ernst mentioned, is almost finished with only eight competitors left who will begin to compete the week of Jan. 28 in the champions bracket. The bracket will narrow to two competitors who will face off in front of the whole school on Feb. 1 and be handed the Golden Paddle.

Ernst added that this year’s competition is different because competitors are now allowed to bring in their own paddles.

His reasoning behind his love for the tournament: “I love the excitement of the tourney and the competition.  I also like the fact that most matches end with the competitors congratulating one another in this competition and supporting the idea of good sportsmanship.”