The People Behind the People's Organization of Network Gaming

PONG: Presidents of News Groups, Poorly Organized Nerd Group, People Overdrinking Not Graduating, Personal Observation Network Gamers, People’s Obnoxious Night Games, or People’s Original Network Gaming​?

Sometimes people get confused when it comes to the People's Organization of Network Gaming. Thankfully, their executive board is always helping us out. We were able to sit down with plenty of these executives to get the answers to some of our burning questions at their most recent MicroLAN. Unfortunately, it's not a complete list of the board, as PONG executives are pretty busy at LANs and they've got important stuff to do! 

  1. 1. Christina Miller - Tournament Coordinator "Christy989"

    Christina is PONG’s perfect member, the quintessential girl crush that Her Campus Stout is obsessed with. And it’s not just us. Everyone in PONG has something nice to say about Christy, unless its their “nag on Christy day” event that President Matt Gunderson arbitrarily invented one day at a LAN.

    Contrary to what one might think, Christina and Matt go way back in their years with PONG, and they are each other’s closest friends on the board. She’s even reportedly his favorite PONG executive of all time.

    What isn’t there to like about Christina? She’s fun, responsible, immediately on top of things, willing to help with anything, and is constantly getting people engaged. On the PONG board, Christy definitely laughs the most!

    PONG wouldn’t be as successful as it is without the tireless work of Christina, she makes it all happen. Not to mention she is extremely consistent when it comes to submitting the necessary receipts and paperwork for the budget to be handled properly.

  2. 2. Michael Du Mez - Promoter "Charlie Florence*"

    Michael definitely seems like somebody you’d want to talk sports with. PONG’s President describes him as a "juxtaposition between a class clown and the star athlete.” Something that is kind of hilarious considering the lengths that Michael goes to make it seem like he follows sports.

    What Matt was spot-on about is the enjoyment Michael gets from engaging with people. You don’t even have to be affiliated with PONG to hear the stories of the famous “Charlie Florence” @ing himself on Discord in the middle of the night for absolutely no reason. He’s the kind of carefree person that thrives in providing entertainment for the masses. You probably wouldn’t even be surprised that he plays competitive games uncompetitively.

    Following his brand of being endlessly surprising, there are many different names you could find used by PONG’s Promoter. His most notable is “Charlie Florence” because of his very active presence on Discord. He likes using Discord because it’s like a “super Facebook messenger” that gives him the opportunity to express himself to the fullest.

    Michael brings something extra to the PONG executive board. He lives his life playing off of other people, especially his President. Michael is always trying to see what Matt’s reaction will be to the random things he does. This was especially present during a roundtable planning meeting for an upcoming LAN, in which Michael suggested that the event theme should be no other than “Charlie Florence” himself. He even offered to make a cardboard cut-out of his Discord avatar.

    Serving as PONG’s promoter, Michael works in creating event graphics, social media posts, and even a few posters. A few posters because sometimes PONG’s President has too good of an idea to pass up. Joking aside, Michael does have a lot of respect for the outgoing President and is dreading losing him and Christina during the transition process. Although he 100% believes in the incoming President Chris, and his ability to do a fantastic job in the position.

    Beyond being a dedicated Promoter, Michael is a very committed gamer, averaging between 25 and 30 hours a week playing games. You can even find him using this time to stream on Twitch, where he recently became an affiliate streamer.

    Michael became PONG’s promoter because he really enjoys graphic design and art production, and it’s an opportunity to explore that style of art. If you aren’t able to see his work on posters or screens around campus, you can take in the promotion on PONG social channels like Twitter and Discord. The future of PONG social media is also expanding under Michael – with plans to get back into Instagram and running contests.

    Once you’ve met the famous “Charlie Florence”, you’ve got to wonder, who wouldn’t want to be friends with him? A few weeks of watching his Twitch streams and our chapter voted to make him our preferred streamer for bonding events. Just don’t ask him about Christian Yelich!

    *additional gamer tags include Taxidermy Frank, ScubaScubaScubaScuba, and Slip the Toad

  3. 3. Dante Castelli - Sponsorship Liaison "Kota"

    Yet another PONG executive who serves in the leadership of another organization; being President of Stout’s chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals. And this is just one of the reasons that he’s so naturally able to collaborate with other organizations; bringing people together makes everything better. Dante is always looking to bring organizations together for collaboration opportunities and is a frequent promoter of Her Campus editorial content.

    As the Sponsorship Liaison, Dante works with several brands to get event sponsorships. Some of these brands include Erberts and Gerberts, be quiet!, and Discord. After working with so many different companies on securing sponsorships for equipment and game prizes, Dante’s white whale is securing a sponsorship with a deodorant company. Just because it would be hilarious. Unfortunately, Dante is still waiting on Axe to email him back.

    Dante’s gamer tag may seem like it comes out of left field. That’s because it’s a shortened nickname given to him by a cousin not able to pronounce Dante. And then it just kind of stuck.

    Closing out a year as the Sponsorship Liaison, Dante is returning to Stout as the Events Coordinator AKA Christy 2.0!

  4. 4. Aidan Kelly - Tournament Coordinator "Spaeds"

    As the Tournament Coordinator, Aidan spends a lot of time at LANs managing some of their most popular activities, such as League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six Siege.

    When he was running for his position on the executive board, he focused the memes for his position on comic strips from the 1980s.

    When he’s not at a PONG meeting, in class, or doing homework, you can usually find Aidan playing video games. He plays anywhere from 20 to 40 hours each week and makes sure to give it his full attention by completing other responsibilities as soon as possible.

  5. 5. Cody Gentz - Treasurer "PirateKody"

    Cody is really good at managing money. When he’s not keeping track of the PONG budget, he’s overseeing the budgets of all student organizations at Stout through the Financial Affairs Committee. Which is even more impressive because he’s the youngest person to hold this position. He oversees the handling of over $500,000 in student allocable segregated fees but is nowhere near old enough to be seen at the bars.

    As PONG’s treasurer he’s especially notable for knowing the fine details of successful organization management and budgetary concerns. You really can’t do better than the current standing Director of Financial Affairs when it comes to running the numbers on your ledger. It’s also a great way to give younger organizations the attention they need to thrive in that environment and the space to do their own thing.

    Cody’s gamer tag is quite possibly the furthest back reaching compared to his fellow executives. Cody has been calling himself a pirate since he was six years old playing Club Penguin with a Pirates of the Caribbean fix. Today that name comes back in a fun way as he is the heart and soul of Stout student organization finance management.

    PONG can look forward to many more years of Cody Gentz, as he’s stepping into the position of Vice President. It’s a good thing he and Chris Johnson get along so well because it's a lot of time to spend with someone between PONG and SSA.

    At the end of the day, Cody’s a problem solver, and PONG is super lucky to have him!

  6. 6. Chris Johnson - Vice President "CaptainAwsome247"

    Chris is PONG’s greatest includer. He has a level of energy and passion that is tough to find in someone who serves as Vice President in two very large, very different student organizations. It is truly amazing how positive of a person he is with how much responsibility he has between PONG and the Stout Student Association. He has very little free time.

    Throughout his time at Stout, Chris hasn’t had a lot of free time to begin with. Before joining PONG, he was a member of SSA’s Financial Affairs Committee with Matt and Cody. And Matt was able to convince him into joining PONG as a promoter, working to promote events that he had never even gone to before.

    Chris took this challenge in stride and stayed up for the full duration of the 48-hour event. After a stern talking to, he compromised on staying up for just 36 hours the next time around. Baby steps.

    Chris has been in the transition process for becoming President for longer than most of the current executive board has been at Stout. He’s been steadily learning with Matt and working out the details on the last of the chaotic Gunderson reform changes. Other than that, don’t hold your breath for any more changes on the horizon beyond a few tweaks here and there.

    Something that you might notice about Chris’ gamer tag is that it’s seemingly spelled wrong. This is because when he made the switch from X Box to PC Gaming, his old gamer tag was already taken, and forfeiting one of the e’s from Awesome was a compromise he was willing to make.

    As the incoming President of PONG, you can always rely on Chris Johnson to welcome people in with open arms and Monty Python references!

  7. 7. Matt Gunderson - President "Aestris"

    What can you say about Matt that hasn’t already been said a dozen times before? His organization treats him like a god, he’s a little larger than life, and it can be very challenging to interview him at a LAN because everyone wants his attention. Many people credit him for his commitment to rebuilding several aspects of PONG, and gaming organizations at Stout as a whole. You could probably go so far to say that he’s one of the most beloved student organization Presidents that Stout has ever seen.

    How does a President get this beloved? Every one of his executives says the same thing. He’s organized, dedicated, and calm. If you talk to him long enough he’ll be sure to remind you that he also has skills in ideation, deliberation, analytics, intellection, and individualization. Through and through, Matt Gunderson is a walking example of a strategic thinker (as defined by CliftonStrengths testing).

    What really sets Matt apart from other Presidents is just how much he cares about his executive board. You haven’t heard praise until you hear Matt talk about how much he appreciates Chris. That is a working relationship and friendship that you can only hope for in a college student organization.

    If you’re around Matt at a LAN, you’ll notice that he’s rarely playing games for his own entertainment. He’s walking around the room and checking in with everyone. Joining in tournaments so everyone has a good time. He's the first person to volunteer for the dirty work that nobody else wants to do. And the only thing stopping him from taking the dreaded 6am shift is his insomnia.

    PONG is a recreational gaming environment, but Matt has made it a learning environment during his Presidency. He put in the work to ensure that he had the best team possible, whether that was recruiting people from other organizations, developing internal talent, and making sacrifices to keep everything together.

    Matt has put in so much work to set up PONG to be successful without him. And he’s never cared about the glory that comes with accomplishing what he has. And that’s because Matt thoroughly believes that being a leader isn’t about leading, it’s about finding those self-motivated people and giving them the support they need to be successful.

    Michael may have said it best with, “Matt always has a very organized plan. He has a plan and a structure. He knows what he wants accomplished and then gets everyone’s feedback. He tries to keep it calm; it can get pretty riled up sometimes.” There is really no calmer a person on Earth than Matt Gunderson, and with that he’s given his team the ability to make mistakes without fear of retribution. It’s all a learning experience, and that has been a huge driver of the success that PONG has had under Matt’s leadership.

PONG truly has an exemplary team bringing it all together. And we're the fortunate ones that get to see them in action.