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Queen Pong: Jasna Reed

How a Texas Wesleyan coach hopes to bring table tennis out of the basement and into the limelight.
By Kristin Hart |
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photography by James Bland

With an Olympic medal under her belt, 37-year-old Jasna Reed knows a thing or two about perseverance. And that’s exactly what she’s imparting to young players at Texas Wesleyan University. As a coach and competitor for one of the best collegiate table tennis teams in the country, Reed walks a fine line between commanding excellence and having fun with her teammates. “When I play in women’s singles, it can be awkward because I sometimes play against the women I coach,” she says. The Rams have won 33 out of 45 college titles since 2002, and the university is one of the few that offers scholarships in table tennis. As for Reed, she’s competed in almost every Olympics since 1988, but ran out of steam at the recent trials for Beijing. “I just didn’t want it enough,” she says. Reed, who was born in Bosnia, is the only non-Asian woman ever to win an Olympic medal in table tennis and is now focused on the 2012 games in London with more motivation than ever before. Aside from Reed’s fierce competitiveness, her biggest goal is to promote the game many know as ping-pong and bring it into an arena where it’s treated as a “real sport,” instead of just a game played in basements for fun. She hopes the program will receive more funding, allowing them to build a gym solely for athletes training in this sport. “If we could develop a strong program, we might one day have an American-born Olympic medalist in table tennis,” Reed says.