Girl’s badminton optimistic despite challenges


Photo by Erin Fagan

Senior, Georgia Jackson, lifts her racket to hit a clear shot.

Erin Fagan, Staff Writer

The girls badminton team is preparing for conference and state competitions at the end of March.
“It’s a very competitive conference, and while our dual record doesn’t maybe match some of the other schools, we try to measure our season by how the kids are performing at the end of the year in the conference tournament and then at sectionals,” Joe Hames, head coach said. “The last couple of years at sectionals, even though our dual record wasn’t stellar, we have outlasted other conference schools.”
While the team is preparing to compete, there is still some uncertainty as to whether the competitions will happen at all due to Covid.
“They are saying there is going to be a sectional and a state, but nothing is defined yet,” Hames said.
The team has faced challenges due to the season being moved from spring to winter.
“Normally we are pushing 60 girls, now we are pushing about 30,” Wilhelmi said. “Some kids didn’t know. Some kids after the fact asked, and I had to say we have already started.”
On the other hand, an unexpected positive was the addition of athletes from other sports who are able to play on the team this year because of the change from a spring to winter sport.
“We were able to get some other spring sports athletes that wouldn’t be playing because they would be in their season,” Hames said. “We are very fortunate to have them because they have all contributed.”
However, while some were out of season, others ended up with two seasons at once.
“I play varsity basketball too, so I have been hopping in between the two this whole time,” Jackson said. “I’ve had games almost every day, so I’ve been going to parts of practices, and then to games, and then having practice afterwards.”
Covid has presented other challenges as well.
“A challenge I think is just keeping the girls motivated and excited about coming to practice,” Hames said. “With the different protocols we have with temperatures, and they have to self certify, and that can be waning. It just grinds on the kids. Also wearing the mask. They are not in shape as much as they should be and wearing a mask they get tired quickly.”
Sophomore Elle Thompson felt that Covid impacted her season as well.
“I don’t practice as much as I used to with my team anymore,” Thompson said. “I miss seeing everybody, but what we are doing now is so much more than what we were doing a few months ago.”
The lack of spectators also has resulted in some postives.
“I would get super stressed when people watch me and it would make me mess up,” senior Grace Heisen said. “Now, not actually seeing the spectators all around has really helped me focus more.”
“Having no spectators just shows you how much the team supports each other because even though family and friends outside of badminton can’t be there to watch you and support you, your whole team is there for you,” Jackson said.
Spectators can still see the games via livestream.
“We have had teachers volunteer and they are filming for us,” Hames said. “I have had teachers come up to me and other girls saying I watched your match the other night, and that’s a real feel-good moment for the kids because it’s not a forgotten sport.”