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Killerspin's Unplug 'N Play Promotes A Healthy Alternative for CPS students

By Justin Breen | April 17, 2013 7:41am

BRONZEVILLE — Junior Brandon Wilson is a lieutenant colonel at Chicago Military Academy.

He's also a captain now — of the new table tennis squad at his school.

"It is such an honor to be a captain of this team," Wilson said during a Tuesday news conference to kick off Unplug 'N Play, a program sponsored by table tennis manufacturer Killerspin in tandem with Chicago Public Schools.

"This does give you something to do rather than be out on the streets and do crazy stuff," Wilson said.

At the event, Wilson and other students played ping pong against each other, and against Killerspin CEO Robert Blackwell Jr. and professional BiBa Golic.

"This is something I care deeply about," said Blackwell, of Hyde Park. "It's a great sport to build relationships with people."

Wilson is one of 22 players at Chicago Military Academy, which joins Marine Math and Science Academy and Phoenix Military Academy in Unplug 'N Play.

Todd Connor, CPS' executive director for service leadership programs, said he'd like all 44 Junior ROTC programs in Chicago to be part of the venture. He said if corporate sponsors donate $3,500, which will "give most students in the school access to rackets and balls," Killerspin will provide the tables.

"It really was the perfect partnership," said Connor, of Lakeview.

Roger Payne, a Wrigleyville resident who's Killerspin's brand marketing director, wants the program to expand outside of the area.

"We see this as having the ability to roll out in other cities," Payne said. "It's a very easy concept to duplicate."