Amelia Andersson & Rebecca Siciliano (Students)

Amelia Andersson and Rebecca Siciliano pose by a ping pong table with Chadwick Lake in the background.

When Amelia Andersson and Rebecca Siciliano enrolled at Mississippi State University in 2014, neither student had playing sports on their minds. Little did they know that the sport of table tennis would have a lasting impact on their time at MSU.

Andersson, a junior biological sciences major from Ridgeland, decided to join the Table Tennis Club her freshman year after reading about it on MSU’s “Difference of One” website.

“My dad and I had played a little bit of table tennis in our garage, so I decided to go,” Andersson said. “The atmosphere with the club was just really homey, so it became kind of my family.”

As the current president of the MSU Table Tennis Club, Andersson works to recruit new members. When she was new to the club, Andersson recruited Siciliano to join the team.
“Amelia said we needed more women in table tennis because she was the only one at the time,” Siciliano said. “I had never played before, never picked up a paddle, but it’s pretty fun. I came for the friendship, stayed for the sport.”

Andersson and Siciliano, now roommates, have formed a strong bond with each other and with their fellow club members. Earlier this month, the two were the only women to compete at the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association’s Georgia Division tournament in Atlanta.

For both students, table tennis is a way to unwind from the stresses of academic activities. Andersson, who does undergraduate research in a Department of Biological Sciences ecology lab, is hoping to enroll in veterinary school after graduation.

Siciliano, an electrical engineering major from Memphis, Tennessee, spent last semester completing a co-op at Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah, Georgia, where she will return this summer. The junior is also a student ambassador for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She said the Table Tennis Club tends to attract students in STEM fields because there is a lot of physics involved.

“There’s different spins on the ball that involve physics,” Siciliano said. “How you hit it on the paddle in response to that is studied in our club for the competition team. A lot of our motions are very methodical, so it can be very calming as well.”

The group practices three times a week in an open gym format at MSU’s Joe Frank Sanderson Center. Andersson said the club is always open to newcomers, regardless of skill level.

“I would definitely attribute my closest relationships to the club,” Andersson said. “I tend to stay to myself when it comes to school, mostly because I’m in a major that requires me to study all the time. The club was an outlet to meet new people and also form friendships. Everyone on the club is just so down to earth.”

Amelia Andersson and Rebecca Siciliano pose by a ping pong table with Chadwick Lake in the background.