DeKALB – A native of Italy, Federico Bassetti started playing table tennis at the age of 9. A top-notch player, he could have turned professional but decided to go to college instead. He came to the U.S. in 1994 to get his master’s degree at New Mexico State University.
Bassetti came to DeKalb two years ago and founded the successful Northern Illinois University table tennis team, which he coaches. Bassetti was honored for his volunteer work through Reward Volunteers program of the Cabot Creamery Cooperative last month.
Launched in February of 2012, the Reward Volunteer program allows users of its iPhone app and web widget to record their volunteer work – the more you volunteer, the better your chances of being selected as a monthly winner. According to its website, since its launch users have logged more than 28,000 hours of service across the country. For information, visit www.rewardvolunteers.coop/about.php.
Bassetti sat down with MidWeek reporter Doug Oleson last week to discuss table tennis and the rewards program.
Oleson: What did you do to earn the reward?
Bassetti: I am on the USA Table Tennis coaching committee at the Olympic level and the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association executive board. Once I do an activity (with them), I log it onto the app and I share it with Facebook.
We all have a big heart and want to volunteer, but how much time does it take? I wanted to use this app to keep track of my hours. ...By logging time you might have a chance to get paid back. ...You volunteer because (whoever it is) needs your help and doesn’t have any money to pay you.
We tweet messages about everything, why not something good?
Oleson: I’m not that familiar with table tennis. Is it big in other countries?
Bassetti: I think it is the second most popular sport in the world. It is big in Europe and Asia. It’s an Olympic sport. ...Here, the NCAA doesn’t recognize it. College teams are organized as sports clubs.
Oleson: Is it like football and basketball over here?
Bassetti: Yes, it’s very organized.
Oleson: And you teach it at NIU?
Bassetti: I teach table tennis 101 in the kinesiology and physical education department. It’s a credit course.
Oleson: What are some of the things you teach?
Bassetti: You must train to lose. No one prepares you for the disappointment of losing. ...There’s so much you can bring back from a loss. Winning doesn’t teach you anything.
Oleson: How long a period was the reward for?
Bassetti: They have a cycle and you log in so many hours.
Oleson: How many hours did you put in?
Bassetti. I had 182. I keep adding on. I could end up with 200.
Oleson: Were you expecting to win?
Bassetti: No, it was a total surprise. I got a letter telling me in August.
Oleson: What did you win?
Bassetti: I got a gift card for a pair of shoes from Dansko. They sent me a catalog that I can order from.
I wasn’t particularly looking for a prize. I’m more happy about seeing the number of hours (I put in) add up than the prize.
Oleson: I understand you have something else to be proud of.
Bassetti: I’ll be a (U.S.) citizen in a few weeks. I passed the test. It feels good.
Oleson: Sounds like you’re pretty busy.
Bassetti: There’s always more you can do.
Oleson: Anything else you’d like to add?
Bassetti: I am really looking forward to promoting table tennis. ...If you could get a team up, that would be great.