If you want proof that practice pays off, ask any member of the New Paltz Extreme Croquet Society (NPECS).
The team, which plays twice a week on Old Main Quad in rain or shine has been named College Croquet Club of the Year by the United States Croquet Association (USCA).
“There are collegiate clubs all over the nation, but none were represented at as many competitions as New Paltz was last year,” said Co-Founder Justin Berbig, who the USCA announced as 2010’s Rookie of the Year.
Members of NPECS attended 13 tournaments throughout the country last year. Ten members attended the Mid Atlantic/Northeast Regional Tournament, where players from a fifth of the United States came together to compete.
Francis Palasieski, a third-year political science major, has attended seven tournaments.
“How good a competition goes is based largely on how well you play croquet that week, but the social aspect is just as important,” he said. “You meet people from all over.”
Recently, club members travelled to Florida to participate in the USCA’s Palm Beach Invitational. Berbig took home the First Flight trophy, while Palasieski won the Second Flight trophy. Those awards add to a collection of more than 30, many of which are on display in Elting Gym.
Palasieski is currently the club’s co-president, sharing the position with fellow third-year electrical engineering major Tim Mullen. Although he has been playing just over a year, Palasieski has been nominated to represent the United States in the Under-21 Golf Croquet World Championship. If chosen, he would compete against players from 24 nations.
“Being known in the croquet world from competing outside of the collegiate division is definitely part of it,” said Palasieski.
Currently, NPECS is practicing for the 2011 USCA National Collegiate Championship. Last year, the club brought 28 members to the tournament and took home two team trophies. This year however, they are hoping for even more success.
“I really believe there’s no limit to what we can achieve in the future,” said Eric Turner, a veteran New Paltz croquet player and co-founder.
Mullen is just as optimistic.
“We’re confident in our team, and have the strongest players we’ve ever had,” he said. “We’re going to be the number one croquet club in the country, and then we’re going to get a court.”
Court or not, NPECS is leaving its impact on the New Paltz campus – and across the United States.