Setting The Table: South Bend Table Tennis Club churns out elite talent

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One Olympian and five U.S. National Champions.

All from right here in South Bend.

South Bend Table Tennis Clubs meets three days a week over on the West side of town in what appears to be an old pole barn in which they share their floor space with a local boxing club. While it may not look like much, there is far more than meets the eye.

For one, the man behind the club is a legend in the world of table tennis. Dan Seemiller picked up a paddle in the 1960's during the surge of ping pong diplomacy. Soon he was the top rated junior in the United States and upon realizing he had a chance to turn his hobby into a profession, Seemiller trained everyday, eventually earning the top spot in the U.S. men's singles rankings, winning five U.S. singles National Championships and 12 U.S. doubles National Championships.

Coaching was the obvious next step for the decorated Seemiller, and his move to South Bend came out of necessity. The previous coach, an immigrant from Lithuania, built a stellar program here in South Bend, but was forced to return to his native country. After the US Table Tennis Association struggled to find a replacement coach, they threw out the suggestion for Seemiller to take over. After some convincing, the former US Champion reluctantly accepted and has been in South Bend ever since.

During his time in South Bend, Seemiller has coached some of the game's best. Literally in 2000 when Seemiller was tabbed to coach the U.S. Men's Olympic table tennis team in Sydney, Australia. On that team was one of his own from South Bend Table Tennis Club in Mark Hazinski.

"Those are the moments you really do not forget." said Seemiller.

The explosion of table tennis in America has made things more difficult for Seemiller and his small club in Northern Indiana. Where there were once five full time table tennis clubs there are now over 100, but Seemiller and his crew are still trying to challenge on the National stage.

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