Girls badminton opens up fresh season

Athletes prepare for winter season, starting earlier than usual due to new IHSA rules

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Claire Corrigan ’22 gets a ready position to receive a shot at a home meet against Downer’s Grove North on Feb. 17 (Ferrell/LION)

Kate Ferrell

Four years ago, Melissa Sloan ’21 heard an announcement for intramurals badminton. She joined in the fall of her freshman year thinking it would be a fun opportunity to try something new and quickly fell in love with the sport, she said. Sloan continued playing intramural badminton throughout the winter and later decided to try out for the LT girls badminton team and has played ever since.

“I remember being really nervous during the [tryouts] because I was scared that every point or game I lost at tryouts would lower my chances of making the team,” Sloan said. “I was definitely really excited at the end of the week when I ended up making the team.”

LT hosted tryouts for the upcoming season on Jan. 25 in the NC gym, varsity head coach Sue McClenahan said. The tryout process usually involves a variety of physical tests, basic badminton drills and a ladder tournament.

“We are looking for girls that are athletic and coachable, have good court sense, work hard and are aggressive on the court,” McClenahan said. 

Morgan Kearney ‘21, who has been playing LT badminton since freshman year, was introduced to the sport when she strayed away from soccer, but still wanted to play a spring sport, she said. 

“It’s actually a very intense game and is very tiring because there are so many types of shots to hit,” Kearney said. “It’s harder than it seems, people are quick and able to hit the bird right back.” 

The program is always looking for new players, and usually freshmen coming in have no prior experience in playing the game, so it’s cool to see everyones improvement throughout the season, Kearney said. 

The IHSA Board met on Dec. 14, 2020 to discuss the potential start date for sports. Among the dates they decided on was the start date for the girls badminton, which was changed from a spring to winter sport. 

As of now the official start date was Jan. 25, and the season is scheduled to end on April 3. 

“With limited spectators and capacity restrictions in the gym, no tournaments will be happening,” McClenahan said. “This leaves a hole in the competition schedule as the team is accustomed to having matches three to four times a week, and this season we’re lucky to get two per week.” 

As much as COVID-19 has affected multiple high school sports, the pandemic has not affected the game of badminton itself as it is easier to socially distance in badminton, McClenahan said.

After getting most of their  season cut short last year due to the pandemic, Sloan is grateful to get the opportunity to play at all, even if the season looks different this year, she said. 

“The most rewarding part of coaching for me is for the girls to be part of a team and have fun here, McClenahan said. “They learn a lot, make new friends and are physically active daily which is really what they need right now. My goals for this season are for the girls to learn, work hard, have fun and get as many playing opportunities as possible.”