AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Shakehands Pong in Amarillo hosts ping pong tournaments once a month. The league got its start in Jeff Wyrick’s garage, with no initial intention of being a competitive league.
“I really did it just to kinda get my group of friends together. It really started when we had a table in my garage I was about to sell, and I figured we’d just give it one last run, we had such a good time we decided to do it the next month and then we just did it every month after that and it just started growing,” Wyrick explained.
Now, Shakehands still meets once a month, but it’s more than just a couple friends.
“We probably have a core of about 60 players. Our Facebook page has over 200 members that are always watching. We’re about to turn 2 years old, I mean we get new players, we get players that are probably pro-level players,” Wyrick said.
Member Jaime Lucero used to play competitively and appreciates how relaxed this league is.
“The TTA, I’m actually ranked, and I haven’t played competitively like that for 10 years. I’m just excited to play. Now this is kind of laid back, it’s informal, it’s fun you can come and drink and eat and watch,” Lucero said.
There’s a place for everyone here, it’s not just for pros.
“New players will play, start in the lower brackets until we kinda find out how good they are, and then players like myself, I play in the lower bracket,” Wyrick joked.
He is a pro at keeping things going.
“We take entry fees, we’ve just kinda been pooling it together. And we got about $1,000 we could spend on new equipment.”
Now that they have their own tables, they needed something else to put the money toward.
“We were looking to do some type of charity tie-in, we didn’t know what to do with it other than buy equipment, which we didn’t need any, and I thought it’d be good to kind of use our leverage and our volume of people to do something for somebody,” he said.
Now, they make two of their 12 monthly tournaments for charity, like this one, that raised money for Maggie’s Warriors.
“We want it to mean something. One of our players, Matt Henry, his mother is who passed away from Alzheimer’s,” he said.
Matt Henry added, “Who knew that playing ping pong could raise money for Alzheimer’s.”