In the study group's first year at Greendale, Rich Stephenson made a name for himself on campus with his seemingly natural talent for molding clay in a Beginner Pottery class. Jeff Winger was also enrolled in the same class and became jealous with seeing Rich get showered with praise by the teacher and his classmates. Jeff realized he couldn't out sculpt Rich so he faked an injury to avoid having to make pottery. Rich who offered to take a look and nonchalantly told Jeff he was a doctor. Rich diagnosed Jeff's finger as not being sprained which earns him even more enmity from Jeff. Rich was later confronted by Jeff in the school parking lot after class was over. After being grilled about his past in New Mexico, Rich felt he was being interrogated and left. The next day, Rich finished another project by slapping the sides of the vase.
Jeff pointed out that move Rich just did was called "Throwing off the hump", an advanced technique a supposed beginner like Rich shouldn't know. Jeff tried to force Rich to do the move again by sitting behind him while manipulating his hands on the pottery wheel. Unfortunately, this act resembled "Ghosting", a move banned in the classroom by the professor. Jeff was kicked out of class but not before he smashed Rich's vase. The following day, Jeff apologized to Rich for his actions. Rich told him not to worry about it and wished him good luck at keeping his emotions in check. He settled back into working on his vase and recalled his mother speaking harsh words to him as a kid. In his mind she berates him for wasting his time doing pottery rather than studying to be a doctor, and wishes he had died in the roller coaster accident instead of his brother ("Beginner Pottery").