The Wizards and Beer Pong
Nate Rose is a big Wiz fan. Like, the cake toppers on his wedding cake this summer are going to be figurines of himself and his bride in Wizards jerseys. They're inviting Gilbert Arenas to the wedding. The happy couple will probably enter the reception to T.I.'s "Bring 'Em Out," the song the Wiz used to come out to. And they're trying to get a t-shirt bazooka for the party, which, for some reason, is something I never thought of doing.
So of course Nate looked ahead when scheduling his fourth annual Beer-Pong-A-Thon for charity this Saturday. He knew this upcoming weekend was the second weekend of the NBA playoffs, and he figured the front-running Wiz would be on the road. Well, that was three months ago. But even once the Wiz collapsed, he still had basically a 50/50 shot that they would be off on Saturday. Well, the Wiz play Saturday at 5:30. Pongathon 2007 starts Saturday at 4.
"It pains me," Nate told me. "I'm going to be two blocks away, and I can't go."
But he and Besse, his fiance, will be wearing matching Wes Unseld jerseys to the event, which is at RFD, a few meters up from the Verizon Center. The background: a few years ago, Nate--a 29-year-old VP for a small finance company--realized he had a special talent he needed to offer unto the world.
"I was like, 'You know what, I'm pretty good at throwing beer pong tournaments'," he told me. "I figured I might as well harness that talent for something good."
Being obsessed with brackets, Nate had always bracketized his beer-pong tourneys, even if there were only four entrants. Now, he decided to put together a 64-team beer-pong tournament. The proceeds would benefit the National MS Society. The first year's event was so successful that they went to 80 teams in year two. Last year it moved to RFD; over the first three years, the event has raised more than $18,000 for the MS Society. It's gotten to the point where Nate doesn't even know most of the contestants any more. (There are still one or two open spots for tomorrow's event; details available at the official Web site.)
Nate also rounded up a bunch of Wizards items to raffle off at this year's tourney, which will feature 80 co-ed teams: there's an autographed team ball, an autographed Antawn Jamison jersey, an autographed Brendan Haywood t-shirt and a prize package from Gilbert's shoe giveaway. There are eight ping-pong tables, representing eight "regions." There are official Pongathon t-shirts. There is beer. There are cash prizes for first and second place. Most importantly, inspired by Rasheed Wallace, there are championship belts.
So here are Nate's goals for tomorrow: the Wizards win, the Pongathon raises more than $8,000, and he and his fiance, in Wes Unseld's finest, get the belts. And sure, he could just order an extra belt, but that wouldn't be the same.
"I want to earn it," he told me. "I totally just want someone to win it and go to the bar on a random weekend night and have them wear their Pongathon belt. I mean, I'll do that if I win it."
So wish him luck. And stop by RFD if you want, before or after the Wiz game. The competition will last until about 9. Spectators are welcome.
April 27, 2007; 3:06 PM ET
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