Rotarians See Red (Keg Cups, That Is)

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 15, 2015 issue of The Press Enterprise. View clip online.

There is no beer in beer pong when played according to official rules.

You heard correctly: No beer. Official rules.

It’s one of the few times in a bar when red plastic keg cups contain only water. Ten were placed at each end of 16 folding tables in rows of one, two, three and four, front to back.

That was the setting at Franklin’s Cove in Murrieta on Saturday, Aug. 15, when the Temecula Valley New Generations Rotary Club held its sixth annual beer pong tournament. The tournament has raised almost $30,000 since its inception in 2010.

It’s become the club’s most successful fundraiser, said club President Luke Pytlik, 37.

“Beer pong is a natural fit” for our members, he said, most of whom are 18 to 40 years old.

Forty-six teams of two competed for prizes worth $150 to $300. Temecula Chiropractic was a father-daughter affair: Don Myren, 56, and Wendy Myren, 24. In four years of sponsoring the tournament, this was Don’s first time playing instead of watching.

“I’m just gonna go for it cold turkey and see what happens,” he said.

Wendy, no beer pong rookie, was “planning on carrying the team.”

The point of beer pong is to eliminate your opponents’ cups before they wipe out yours by trying to bounce a pong ball into a cup that’s usually filled with alcohol. If you succeed, the cup is removed, and outside tournament rules you consume its contents — arguably the true point of beer pong.

Players and spectators were allowed to drink. Although Las Vegas-style beer pong rules replace beer with water, they don’t prevent a pint or a cocktail from sitting close at hand.

If this doesn’t sound like your grandfather’s Rotary, that’s the point. New Generations Rotary clubs target younger members by offering reduced fees. Pytlik is unsure how many of these clubs exist, but said they’re “starting to pop up” more. His stands alone in its 60-club district.

Rotarian Karyn Westervelt, whose husband, Rudy, is governor of Pytlik’s district, said their events are “over-the-top fun” compared to events by “mature” Rotary clubs.

Tournament proceeds are not earmarked for any specific use, though they typically are equally split between international and local projects. In 2014, beer-pong proceeds enabled Rotarians in Nigeria to build a water well at a school serving 600 kids, and bought Christmas presents for 150 kids associated with Michelle’s Place, a breast cancer resource center in Temecula.

Beer pong is kinetic, if clumsy. Balls bounced off tables to roll along the floor and be chased. Gradually, as teams were eliminated, tables were removed.

Temecula Chiropractic fared well. By 4 p.m. the Myren family had won three games. Or maybe it was four. Wendy wasn’t sure. By then downtime between games had lengthened, and she was trying to find her father for their next match.