Meet Danni Peck. She’s a Year 12 International Baccalaureate student who loves Chinese, Biology and Psychology. She plays the guitar and ukulele, loves baking, and wants to be a surgeon.
Danni is also ranked second in New Zealand in Pinball and is the fourth-best female Pinball player in the world. She regularly travels around the world competing in international Pinball competitions.
“My Dad also plays Pinball and we have around 130 pinball machines at home, so I guess it just came to me naturally,” she said. “I started in the tournament scene a few years ago. In New Zealand, it’s a subset of the IFPA – the International Flipper Pinball Association. I love the community aspect of it and the social scene. I mesh well with the other players – more so than when I played soccer or netball, for example,” she explained.
Pinball is Danni’s main sport and she trains several hours a week. The game takes quick reflexes, good hand-eye coordination, and the brain power to understand and memorise rule sets.
Since she started, Danni has been to the IFPA world champs three times – the first when she was 12 years old. She has also competed at the PAPA World Championship – one of the largest Pinball competition in the world, held in Pittsburgh, USA, every year. It features 305 pinball machines and around 400 players battling the silver ball over three days.
The world champs are by invitation only to the top 64 players in the world. This year Danni’s not going, because the event coincides with her International Baccalaureate exams. But she has her eye on the bigger picture – if she succeeds in her dreams of going to university to study Medicine, not only will she be the first doctor in her family, she’ll be the first of her family to go to university at all.
Medicine will allow her to combine her love of both Humanities and Sciences.
“I like to focus on people and I find humans so interesting,” she explained. “My parents don’t mind what I do, but they want me to be the best at it that I can be. It makes me want to succeed. So I’d love to be a surgeon. I’m not sure what specialisation yet as there are so many. I just like the idea of the interaction, and of being able to help people.”
Meantime, she’d like to take over as the top Pinball player in New Zealand. She’ll have to beat her Dad though – he’s currently number one.