News that one of their members has been accused of sexually abusing at least 10 men over the last decade has members of the Maryland Beer Pong league reacting with shock and anger.
"It's a betrayal to the community," said Sean Foster, 33, the reigning state champion and a member of the league since its formation in 2005.
Joey Poindexter, of Gaithersburg, was arrested Saturday, after a man accused him of sexual assault after a beer-pong tournament at Looney's bar in College Park on Oct. 3.
Poindexter regularly attended tournaments with the group at bars around the Maryland area and across the nation to play the drinking game, which involves a team of two lobbing ping-pong balls across the table into cups of beer that the other team then must drink.
When detectives investigated Poindexter, they found several photos of college-age men "who appear to be in various states of consciousness and in compromising positions," a Montgomery County police news release said.
"It is upsetting beyond words that someone involved in our community might have been capable of the alleged crimes and was able to avoid detection for so long," the Maryland Beer Pong league wrote on its website.
It has been difficult for Foster to process, he said, because the group is such a tight community.
"I've seen people play beer pong, meet and get married," the Gambrills man said. "Beer pong has been such a part of my life."
Foster said the controversy hasn't made him rethink "for a second" his membership in the organization. But all the same, he acknowledged, playing the drinking game could put players in a vulnerable position. The feeling of family among members made them feel at ease, he said, which is why the allegations have been such a jolt.
Some members, though, said they've had doubts about Poindexter, who had been a member since 2006.
"He always gravitated to the younger beer-pong guys," said Jeff Barnes, of Catonsville, an original member who said he's since become less involved. "He was always offering to buy people drinks."
Foster said Poindexter often served as the designated driver after events, taking groups of five or six back to his house.
Mitch Feldman, a member from Columbia, said Poindexter often recruited new members. Poindexter would also befriend younger members of the group, Barnes said, so much so that it became a joke among members.
"It was nothing suspicious," Feldman said. "We just thought he was introducing new guys to the community."
Barnes said Poindexter would often pay his partners' way and hotel fare to out-of-state tournaments, like the World Series of Beer Pong in Las Vegas.
Feldman said he thinks there are probably more victims in the community, and he hopes speaking out will urge them to come forward.
"If I can encourage any of them, the more evidence they have, the longer they can put him away," he said.