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The Mike Dempsey Memorial Tournament, a Step Up in Class for Newcomer
By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Nolan Dean Weber at a new level  Photo By: Richard Xue


A flight from Jackson in Missouri to Dallas in Texas; then to San Diego in California, a total of some eight hours to compete in what will be his first ever table tennis tournament of note.

Nolan Dean Weber is one of the competitors in the Mike Dempsey Memorial Tournament, which commences on Thursday 29th November and he is currently attending the four day Training Camp prior to the three day competition.

It is a scenario which the 17 year old would not have believed possible some 18 months ago; then the sport was either baseball or football and that is English football or in the language of the United States, it’s soccer.

Suffered a Seizure
Some 18 months ago he suffered a seizure at school; he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, which has since been surgically removed.

He is currently undergoing chemotherapy. The tumour is no growing.

St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
Currently, he attends the St Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis, Tennesse; as a result of the brain tumour he is restricted in his movements on the left hand side of his body, where there is a degree of paralysis.

Always Smiling
However, he smiles but he cannot match the smile of his mother, Rachelle; she spent the whole two and half hour training session picking up table tennis balls for the players and never stopped smiling.

“He can smile, so I can smile”, she said.

Higher Level
Now for Nolan Dean Weber, the sport for the centre midfield soccer player is table tennis and the Mike Dempsey Memorial Tournament is a major step up in class.

“I have played in some competitions locally and I have won”, smiled Nolan Dean Weber. “However, this tournament is the biggest of my life; before I played table tennis for fun, now since February this year I have started to play in competitions.”

Watching him play, the technique needs honing but clearly he is a convert to the sport of table tennis.

He is ready for the challenge but above all else it is the positive attitude that is presented by both son and mother.

“I think what is important is that table tennis has given him a goal”, said Rachelle Weber. “Also, he has a friend whose sister is a Paralympian; she is a swimmer, Susan Beth Scott, and competed in both the Beijing and recent London Paralympic Games.”

Sets Example
Susan Beth Scott provides an example and Nolan Dean Weber has very clear targets; goals which table tennis has provided.

At every session of the Training Camp Rachelle Weber assisted by collecting table tennis balls
Photo by Richard Xue

Coaches in Danger
Now just one thought; could the coaches at the Training Camp be in danger of losing their jobs if Nolan Dean Weber does not perform well in the Mike Dempsey Memorial Tournament?

He likes English football and he supports Chelsea, perhaps being a midfielder having an affinity with Frank Lampard; last week Chelsea lost to Juventus of Italy by three goal to nil and their chances in the European Champions League have dwindled.

The Sack
At 4.00am the following morning, the owner Roman Abramovich sacked the manager Roberto di Matteo and replaced him with Rafael Benitez.

He became the ninth Chelsea manager since 2003 when Roman Abramnovich took control!

Turn Off the Alarm Clock
If Nolan Dean Weber loses in San Diego at the Mike Dempsey Memorial Tournament; are the jobs of Stellan Bengtsson and Gorazd Vecko, the coaches at the Training Camp in question.

Sleep well guys!

Nolan Dean Weber (left) with mother Rachelle (right), the lady who never stops smiling
Photo by Richard Xue



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