Arghk sat down – presumably, it was a conversation by keyboard and we must disclose that the question of whether or not our interviewee was also sitting at the time was not posed – with Brooklyn local, childhood carousel rider and founder of The Push, Jared Sochinsky. Sochinsky is the archetypal New Yorker – he hustles. It’s in his nature and in fairness, it could have taken him anywhere. But the charm of ping pong bit hard with this one, and whether through a stroke of serendipitous luck or not, it is the pongiste who has benefited. Sochinsky’s hustle delivers a thriving and social ping pong scene to the New York borough and so it made sense to delve deeper to see what all the fuss is about.
ARGHK: Where are you from? What do you do?
JS: Born and raised in Queens, NY. Moved to Brooklyn back in 2004 and have been living here ever since. What do I do? I always love that question. I hustle. That’s what you do as a New Yorker. I’ve worked as a public school teacher, audio engineer, touring musician, delivery boy, bartender, restaurant manager. I do a lot.
ARGHK: When did you get into ping pong?
JS: I’m sure I played as a kid. But there weren’t too many people with tables in their house, or I should say apartments. I grew up playing paddle ball in the parks, and when I went to college, my first year at SUNY Oneonta there was a table in our dorm. I spent a lot of time there. Made a lot of really great friends over rallies. Some I still have today.
ARGHK: Why did you get into ping pong?
JS: I like the game. It’s that simple. It’s always a lot of fun. Even if I lose. If there were some good rallies in there, it was fun.
ARGHK: Do you have a proper racquet? If so, what is it?
JS: I use a JOOLA GX 75. It’s a prebuilt paddle. I’ve been getting interested in trying to build my own. Meaning pick a blade, rubbers, etc… and customize it. It’s on the to-do list.
ARGHK: Describe your playing style?
JS: As I begin to play more and more, my style is always developing. I think I might need a stickier paddle, cause I do like to play around with different spins when I can.
ARGHK: Who do you play with?
JS: Running leagues and tournaments around Brooklyn I’ve put together a solid group of friends that are always down to play. So mostly I play with those guys and gals that I met that way. I try as much as I can to check out some of the other spots around town to find a new player to rally with.
ARGHK: What is the Brooklyn ping pong scene like?
JS: There is a group of us for sure. And there are more out there. Every time I pop-up a table, there are always people asking, what we’re doing. When we do it? Can they play? etc. There’s even people that just like to watch. I think the scene is growing. I’m hoping to help build it. At least that’s the plan!
We’re cooped up all winter, so once the sun comes out and we have those few months of sunshine, I try to be outdoors as much as I can.
ARGHK: Have you played at Bryant Park in NYC?
JS: Yes I have. I love playing outdoors. Especially as a city kid. We’re cooped up all winter, so once the sun comes out and we have those few months of sunshine, I try to be outdoors as much as I can. There’s a good group of players at Bryant Park. I bring my own “outdoor” balls to help a bit with the wind.
ARGHK: Do you consider yourself a sporty person?
JS: Sporty, like do I wear tights when I bike, or goggles when I play basketball? No. But I would consider myself athletic. As a kid I probably played every sport except ice hockey (too expensive for my folks) and soccer. Wasn’t as big a thing in the states when I was growing up, and therefore I suck at it. But everything else, yeah. Roller hockey, too (…had to get hockey in somewhere).
ARGHK: Who is your favorite comedian?
JS: My favorite comedian? Funny you ask that. Just started getting into standup again. I’m always terrible with names. I loved the first few Louis CK specials from years ago. Chewed Up was amazing. But I tried watching his most recent special and it wasn’t for me. It had its moments, but it didn’t have that same aura or rawness about it. Maybe he’s gotten too famous. Went to see Wyatt Cenac’s standup night at Littlefield a few weeks ago. He had some really great comedians on the bill.
ARGHK: Can you name a competitive table tennis player?
JS: Dimitrij Ovtcharov but don’t ask me to pronounce that. I got to meet Michael Landers a few months ago. That was pretty cool.
ARGHK: How is ping pong seen by New Yorkers?
JS: As something fun to do. I’m not sure the “Olympics” is on their minds necessarily. I’m sure there are some people like that in NY. But the majority of people that I’ve connected with are people that really like the game. Probably played when they were a kid. Maybe even had a table in their basement. Then they moved to NY and there wasn’t much going on. Its kind of hard to find a table at a bar, or in someone’s house in the city. It starting to happen more and more, which is great.
That’s one of things I like about table tennis. You can talk to your friend or opponent while playing. Maybe not in a heated game, but before the game, when you’re rallying, you can bullshit a bit.
ARGHK: Where do you see the game going in the next few years?
JS: I can tell you I’d like to see more and more people play. And I guess the more people play, even recreationally, the more people will perhaps want to get involved competitively and advance their game.
ARGHK: What are the challenges you see for the game?
JS: Depending upon where you are, space. Speaking solely to NY, it’s space. Most people don’t have room for a table in the their home or apartment. Some do. Maybe some of these luxury condos should start putting them in the basement. I know everyone that moves from out of state to be in NYC will be spending a lot of time there, remembering their childhood table.
ARGHK: Why is beer pong so big in the US?
JS: Because people like to get drunk. Ha. And drinking games are always a fun party activity.
Editor’s note: On the beer pong topic, definitely check out The Three article we did recently.
ARGHK: Do you play chess?
JS: Yes and backgammon. Rummy 500. I like games that you can have a conversation over. That’s one of things I like about table tennis. You can talk to your friend or opponent while playing. Maybe not in a heated game, but before the game, when you’re rallying, you can bullshit a bit. And then you get into a good game. It takes concentration. It takes connection. It takes focus. That’s another thing I like about it. It gives us a chance to truly unplug from our phones and social media, and just play.
ARGHK: What is your favorite type of shot?
JS: I should say “The Push” haha! (Editor’s note – Sochinsky runs the The Push BK – definitely worth teeing up a visit when you’re in the Big Apple). But I like to think that I have a decent forehand.
ARGHK: What is the best place to play ping pong in Brooklyn?
JS: Again, I would have to say “The Push” – the company I started, that pops up at Greenwood Park and Berg’n every week. Ha. There are a few spots. Pips in Williamsburg has a pretty low key vibe. Then there are a few bars around that have tables. The Emerson, my friends host a night there weekly. I’ve even been to a church in Bushwick that has a weekly meet up.
ARGHK: What do you think of Spin?
JS: I think it’s cool. It’s expensive and a little too “clubby” for me. Club in the sense of a “dance club”. I’ve been there a handful of times, mostly during the day off-peak.
Enough sitting. Time for a few rallies.