(By Steve Hopkins)
Wilmington Table Tennis’ Southeastern Sportsman of the Decade
This week, Wilmington Table Tennis Club honored an important fixture in the North Carolina table tennis scene. The award was titled SOUTHEASTERN SPORTSMAN OF THE DECADE. It was presented to Richard Perez, who has been a primary force for a decade in running Cape Fear Table Tennis Club. Perez has recently announced that he is leaving the area and relocating to Florida to help take care of his aging mother. His absence will be felt not just at his club, but throughout the region as he has also been a large part of fostering cooperation amongst the clubs along the East Coast of the Carolinas.
Cape Fear Table Tennis Club will continue to run (with Kenneth Smyth and Peter Lehnecke at the helm). During his time at Cape Fear, Perez helped to accumulate $15,000 of table tennis equipment and supplies. He has left the club is in good shape to move forward.
The Award was presented by Tim Connelly, Fred Van Nynatten, and Laurence Nadeau. As described by Connelly:
“This will likely be the last time for us in the Southeastern NC Table Tennis Community to provide him a collective “thanks for all you’ve done and thanks for who you’ve been” sendoff. So Fred Van Nynatten, Laurence Nadeau and myself got together to decide the best way to do it. It is with pleasure and gratitude that we award Richie the first ever “Sportsman of the Decade” honor for our part of the state for his contributions to table tennis that go beyond amazing all the way to “wow, you’re the man!”
“You’ve seen how hard he works. You know how much fun he makes it. You know about the enthusiasm and spark that he brings to it. You don’t need me to tell you. But I want to say this. Thank You!”
“You were our leader. You were there in the million details that had to be ironed out. You made us do things we didn’t want to do yet somehow you made it more fun than we could have imagined. Thanks. You will be missed but not forgotten. You will continue to inspire us. With 2 years to go in the decade- there’s nothing any of us can do to catch up. This honor isn’t one being given but one that was earned through blood, sweat, toil, commitment and passion. Southeastern NC Table Tennis is sad to see you go but we were so fortunate to have you this long.”
Perez describes himself as “an addict of table tennis and anything table tennis related”. He’s a tournament player, an umpire, and a table tennis promoter who has directed 27 sanctioned tournaments in the last 7 years along with numerous other club and unsanctioned events. His enthusiasm, commitment and passion for the sport is now on the move – We’ll look to hear more when the next chapter begins in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area of Florida.