by: Trenton Szeto
Heart pounding, sweat dripping, limbs weary, racket held at a slight angle to receive the serve, anticipating whether it will be short or long, low or high. It is the match point and your gut clenches, knowing just how important it is to return the serve perfectly. Intense and heart-pounding are hardly the descriptions most people would use to describe the sport of badminton. If you ask almost anyone about it, they will probably reference the boring backyard party game that has players chasing after wind-blown, frail shuttlecocks with cheap, mass-produced rackets while also mispronouncing the name as “badmitton”. Most of them might not have realized badminton was a professional sport and even less might have known it is an Olympic sport.
Most students know badminton as the short period in PE in which they pick up broken and misshapen rackets while playing on courts with no clear indicators about what is in or out. Next year, though, Badminton Club will return once again to Northside after spending a handful of years in retirement. The founder of the club, Emily Cihla, Adv. 800, with sponsor Coach Henry Henderson, hopes to put badminton back into the athletic spotlight that it belongs in, rather than its current place as a forgotten backyard pastime and overlooked PE sport. Members will learn how to properly play the sport and compete in fast-paced games with other students sharing their interest in the sport. “I always loved badminton and have wanted to start a badminton club since freshman year but always procrastinated when it came to actually starting it,” Cihla says. Although it is the end of the school year, Badminton Club hopes to explode onto the scene at the beginning of the next school year.
Many schools around the nation already include badminton as a competitive sport with school teams competing against other schools. Many of the suburban schools out of Chicago have had teams for many years, leading many students to wonder why Chicago Public Schools does not feature badminton as an official sport. There are several CPS schools that have started their own team or club, such as Senn High School or William Howard Taft High School. Typically, the CPS teams will play against other local teams, usually consisting of suburban high schools. Badminton Club hopes to possibly join some of these other schools and even jumpstart the process for CPS to bring badminton as an official sport.
The club currently sits with approximately thirty students interested in joining, which comes as a surprise to Cihla. “Now that I realize what a following badminton has and how it’s neither a club or sport at school, I decided to start something myself and see how far this whole thing goes,” she says. Although meeting dates and locations are not set in stone yet, Badminton Club promises to be one of the most exciting new clubs next year as it offers a fascinating and new sport experience for all of Northside to enjoy.