Lily Yip turn NJ’s Pillar College into ping pong powerhouse
Site Products
Lily Yip turn NJ’s Pillar College into ping pong powerhouse

Lily Yip determined to turn New Jersey’s Pillar College into ping pong powerhouse

(By Kristian Dyer,Metro)
Lily Yip turn NJ’s Pillar College into ping pong powerhouse
Lily Yip is the next coach in New Jersey tasked with building a top-tier athletics program at the collegiate level. Unlike high-profile hires such as Rutgers football’s head coach Chris Ash, Yip’s program is far from the bright lights of the gridiron in the Big Ten but for this highly-decorated, former Olympian doesn’t dissuade her from her mission.

She is convinced that Pillar College (with literally no history in athletics) can become a highly-ranked and respected program in, of all sports, table tennis.

On Tuesday, Yip was introduced as the first-ever head coach at Pillar College, a school based across three campuses in New Jersey and boasts a growing student body of 637 students. Pillar has never had a table tennis team before; in fact this is the Christian college’s first foray into athletics beyond intramural sports. They will participate in the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association, playing several nationally ranked programs this year.

But beyond being their head coach, Yip is also a bit of a ringer for this Christian college. She began playing the sport at a young age in China, widely regarded as the powerhouse of table tennis in global competitions. She coaches the team but also plays for Pillar.

In China, Yip says, there is a culture around table tennis as she herself grew up playing the sport. At 15-years old, just a couple months before she was supposed to graduate from high school, she turned professional with a contract from the Chinese government. The goal was for Yip to become a standout at the international level.

But the Olympics, the goal of every Chinese athlete in the program, was never to be for her…at least not for her native country. Life would take her instead to a new country, a new home.

She came to the United States in 1989 at 24-years old to be united with family, not to further her table tennis career. She wanted to get an education and was prepared to leave the sport that was such a big part of her life essentially behind her. The move to America, where the sport is more commonly called ping pong and fails to register among football, baseball and basketball, was not a move to further her athletic career. She was prepared to put away her athletic ambitions for good.

“After the professional life is finished of an athlete, there was nowhere to go. Nothing to do,” Yip told Metro.

“Of course I wanted the ‘American Dream.’ The life, education. The dream. So I made the move. I didn’t think sport was in my future.”

Little did she know that her past as a highly-trained athlete in China would pave the way for her future.

She began playing in local table tennis tournaments for the exercise and to no one’s surprise she dominated the competition. Winning she says – “makes you feel good” – and she continued to play (and win) tournaments. A couple years later Yip played in a qualifying tournament for the United States Olympic squad, eventually being ranked third in the nation. From there it would only grow as she was part of the Olympic teams in 1992 in Barcelona and then again the Atlanta games in 1996.

In 2004 she would be inducted to the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame and this past summer, Yip was the head coach of the United States in this summer’s Olympics.

Now she is at Pillar where she not only coaches the team but also plays for their team; Yip is enrolled at the college as well and is earning her masters degree in counseling. Her team, she said, are ambassadors of the college as Pillar is relatively small in student body size compared to the likes of Penn State and Pittsburgh, two programs they’ve already faced this year.

And the program shows no signs of slowing down. Assistant coach Jim Hanlon said that he is already busy recruiting international students to create a pipeline of table tennis talent coming to the school.

“A lot of blessings from God. The United States gave me an opportunity to continue the sport. I have made so many friendships here through this sport,” Yip said.

“At the same time, I can renew my education here. I can contribute more and share the skill I have. I can learn more, I can do more things. What a blessing.”

Latest News

Steven Moreno And His Teammate Enrique Ríos Became The U-13 Category Pan American Champions

September 29, 2022
(By: Bowmar Sports Team) Our Butterfly player Steven Moreno and his teammate Enrique Ríos became the U-13 Category… Read More

Seven Days With Sally Moyland In The 2022 U19 PanAm – Rosario Argentina

September 29, 2022
(By: Sally Moyland) This tournament was right after the New York training camp. All U19 Team USA representatives… Read More

Butterfly San Antonio Fall Open Results And Tournament Report

September 27, 2022
(By: Vlad Farcas) On September 10th the 2022 BUTTERFLY San Antonio Fall Open, a 2-star USATT Sanctioned took… Read More

Tashiya Piyadasa Won The ITTF Americas Hope Continental Challenge 2022

September 27, 2022
(By: Bowmar Sports Team) The ITTF Americas Hope Continental come with an amazing victory to USA by Tashiya… Read More

Coaching Tips of the Week: The Quick Chip Receive

September 26, 2022
(By Larry Hodges) Often an opponent serves short backspin or no-spin serves to the middle or backhand, and… Read More

WAB Club Feature: Song Jeho Table Tennis Club

September 25, 2022
(by Steve Hopkins) The Song Jeho Table Tennis Club (“SJHTTC”) is centrally located in Los Angeles.  The club is… Read More

Triangle’s 2022 Butterfly September Tournament

September 25, 2022
(by Steve Hopkins) Triangle Badminton and Table Tennis Club hosted their Butterfly September open last weekend.  There were… Read More

Pan Am U11 & U13 Results: Team USA’s Strong Results in Santo Domingo

September 25, 2022
(by Steve Hopkins, photo USATT) The 2022 ITTF Pan American U11 and U13 Championships were held this week… Read More
View All News

Get the latest from Butterfly

Stay “In The Loop” with Butterfly professional table tennis equipment, table tennis news, table tennis technology, tournament results, and We Are Butterfly players, coaches, clubs and more.