When Gal Alguetti was a young boy in Israel, his father would bring him and his brothers to the local sports club where he played table tennis team multiple times a week. The young boys fell in love with the sport, and by the time the family immigrated to the United States when Alguetti was nine, he and his brothers were competing internationally.
Now, the New Jersey-based Alguetti brothers are a well-known trio in the competitive table tennis world. Alguetti, his twin brother Sharon and their older brother Adar are all members of the USA Table Tennis national team, and they all have claims to national and international titles. Just this spring, Alguetti traveled to Mexico, France and Belgium to compete in international tournaments.
This fall, Alguetti and his twin will face a new challenge in their table tennis careers: balancing training and tournament schedules with college courses. In a few weeks, the twins will officially begin their freshman year at Indiana University Bloomington, studying in the Kelley School of Business. But they're already on campus getting a head start on academics as participants of the Intensive Freshman Seminar program.
Students in the program move to campus early and complete three course credits in an intensive, two-and-a-half week seminar-style class before the school year starts. Alguetti is completing the course "Blood, Babies and Chainsaws: Gender in/as Horror," and said that after just a few days on campus he's already noticed a difference between college and high school academics. He said assignments are broader and require him to work with his classmates more. But Alguetti said the teamwork skills coupled with the perseverance required for success in table tennis will help him succeed in college.
"I know it sounds cliché, but the biggest lesson I've learned through table tennis is to never give up," Alguetti said. "It's one thing when people keep telling you that, but I've actually experienced it with table tennis. It's difficult when you're at the top because all of your opponents' eyes are on you."
Table tennis also has provided time management skills needed to balance practicing, completing cardio and strength cross training, traveling for tournaments, and staying on top of academics. The credits he'll earn from the seminar will allow him to take a lighter course load during the fall semester and have more time for training, and his early arrival to campus has given him the opportunity to stake out IU's sports facilities. After only two days on campus, Alguetti and his brother had broken in the tables at the Student Recreational Sports Center.
The top-notch facilities offered by IU Recreational Sports were actually part of reason Alguetti and his brother chose IU. The prestige of the Kelley School of Business and the large, beautiful campus sweetened the deal. Alguetti said he was also interested in exploring different parts of the country and learning more about different cultures and traditions beyond New Jersey and the East Coast.
Though he and his twin will continue their table tennis training together and are both pursuing business degrees, Alguetti feels confident that they will be able to forge their own paths at IU. They are not sharing a dorm room, and they are pursuing different interests within the Kelley School of Business.
"To be honest, no one really knows fully what they want to do when they start college or even what the classes they signed up for will be like," he said. "I know that as I take more classes, I'll get to know myself better and so will my brother. It will be very unlikely that we have the exact same path because in the end we are two different people."
Even though it's still a mystery what the coming semester will hold for Alguetti, he said his experiences in the Intensive Freshman Seminar have him excited for the challenges ahead. His advice to his classmates who have yet to arrive on campus is to seek out resources early, check your email and be friendly.
"Make an effort to get to you know your classmates, because in the end, you'll need each other."
On Aug. 13, join us as we follow Gal Alguetti through his day as an IU student as part of our One Day/One Hoosier series. Look for his story through @IUBloomington on Twitter, @iubloomington on Instagram and iu_bloomington on Snapchat as it happens live starting around 9 a.m. EDT.