Joshua Leonard is a fifth-year student at the University of Florida.
Leonard began hanging out at the UF BCM when he was a freshman and immediately was captivated by the game of Boggy Pong. As is the case with many freshmen who start coming to the BCM, Boggy Pong is a game that Joshua had never heard of, but it was one he quickly became very interested in.
In high school, Joshua played varsity soccer, so he has a competitive streak. When he went to college, he no longer was able to play sports, other than an occasional game with friends, so Boggy Pong became a competitive outlet.
Though Boggy Pong is played nearly every day at the BCM, there are two tournaments each year. At the end of the Fall semester and Spring Semester, there is the Boggy Pong Tournament. Here, all of the best players, and others who just want to try and win the tournament, come and play to decide a champion for that semester.
He (or she) who wins the tournament has his name engraved on a plaque in the BCM's Boggy Room. Champions date back to the early 2000s, though the game has been played since well before then.
Leonard first got his name engraved in the Fall of 2010, his third year at UF. He was able to win the tournament a second time, earning a second engraving, in the Spring of 2012.
Leonard spoke about what being the Boggy Pong champion, as well as the game as a whole, meant to him.
Why did you first start playing Boggy Pong, and what is it about the game that makes it so interesting?
"When I came into college, some of the first friends I made were around the Boggy table.
Other guys with similar interests as me began playing, and as a freshman, it was an easy way to make new friends and kind of connect, I guess you could say."
Why Boggy? Why not ultimate frisbee or Xbox or something else?
"Don't get me wrong, I definitely did a lot of those things, too. Looking back, I am not sure when I actually got any classwork done.
But I made it through, so that must say something.
But no, when I was a freshman, I saw the people who were able to win the Boggy Tournament at the end of each semester and get their names up on the plaque. That became one of my main goals. Many times that sort of became more important than some of my homework or other studies. It really is a point of pride around the BCM."
You did get your name on the plaque, though.
What was that like?
"Well, the first time was in the Fall of 2010, which was my junior year of college. Then I did it again in the Spring of 2012. So relatively recently.
The thing you have to understand is the tournament has 30, 40 sometimes 50 people playing at once. There are a lot of pretty good people playing, and it is pretty competitive. I had some friends who had won it before me, so it was nice to get the last laugh a few times."
Do you still play Boggy?
"Yeah. Not as much as I used to because I am graduating this semester, but I do. I don't get competitive over it like I did before or anything, though. Now I am kind of one of the older guys, I guess, and it is still a good way to get freshman involved. I always encourage people to play in the tournament and just use it as an easy way to get to know other people around the BCM.
In some ways, it is just a game. But it is also kind of a bit of a culture at the BCM. People know what you mean when you ask them if you want to get a game going. Kind of just a way to get to know people better, too."
Sean Carey-Love is a recent graduate of the University of Florida.
Like Leonard, Carey-Love has also won a Boggy Tournament, his coming in the Spring of 2011.
Carey-Love agreed to talk about his experience with Boggy Pong from his days back in college.
You are a graduate of the University of Florida now. Looking back, talk about the BCM and Boggy Pong and how it became a part of your life.
"Make me feel old. I only graduated a year ago, so I am not that far past my prime. I could still play a good game if I wanted to. I think the thing with Boggy is it's just there. You come to the BCM after class, it's 'Come play Boggy Pong.' No plans on the weekend? 'We should go play some Boggy.' It is kind of weird. It goes through cycles. I went weeks where it seemed like I played it non-stop, then there were weeks I didn't play as much. But overall, in four years, I played a lot."
Winning a tournament must have been pretty cool, right?
"Really cool. Great feeling. It's like anything else, if you play enough, you get good, you get competitive, you want to win. I did win one, I think maybe a semester before I graduated. Pretty bitter sweet. My name hangs on that plaque for the kids who play now to see. It's cool."
What was your playing style like?
"It was a bit of both extremes. I played a lot, so I could control the ball really well. That's the key. You have to be able to control the ball. I could slice shots and backhand shots, kind of like you see tennis players do. But also, I got pretty good at putting top spin on the ball to mix it up. Kept people on their toes. Guess that's what helped me win the one tournament I was able to win."