NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- A nationally ranked table tennis player with Bethel connections will exhibit his skills at Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 1. Joshua Bartel has a cousin in the Bethel student body (Margaret Penner, senior from Chester, Ohio) and on the Admissions staff (director Allan Bartel). Joshua Bartel spent some of his early years in Goessel and now lives in Augusta.
Bartel will give an exhibition at 2 p.m. on Centennial Plaza, with Memorial Hall as an alternate location in case of windy or rainy conditions, with his teenage exhibition partner, P. J. Phachantry of Wichita. Bartel will also speak about being a successful disabled athlete. He was diagnosed with Systematic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at a young age and has since represented the United States in the Para-Pan Am Games, World Championships and Paralympics.
At age 15, Bartel was in a severe car accident, which resulted in his being confined to a wheelchair for more than a year. During his rehabilitation, he returned to Augusta High School, where he played on the golf team.
He graduated from Augusta in 1990 and went on to Kansas State University, where he received a degree in mechanical engineering. He first began to play competitive table tennis at Kansas State. "In my first few games, I probably didn’t win a single point," Bartel says.
Most of his success in table tennis came after college. He has been the national champion for standing disabled table tennis players multiple times, medaled in major tournaments in France and the Czech Republic and won the Para-Pan Am Games twice.
The highlight of Bartel’s career, he says, was earning the bronze medal in his class (players whose legs and playing arms are affected) at the Sydney Paralympics in 2000. He competed in the teams division with his partner Norman Bass, the first African-American to play professional football and baseball in the same year.
Bartel is currently ranked in the top ten among able-bodied table tennis players in Kansas. He lives in Augusta with his wife Stephanie and children Isaiah and Christian, and works as an IT for Savista Corporation in Wichita. He has given many table tennis exhibitions and demonstrations to area high schools.
Bethel College hosts its 35th annual Fall Festival Sept. 29-Oct. 2. Other weekend activities on campus include food and entertainment for all ages, arts and crafts, alumni gatherings, athletic events and the dedication of the new $5.5 million sports complex.