Down but not out

Images provided by author. Top: Washington’s badminton team plays Mission San Jose.

Washington’s badminton home game against Mission San Jose High School ended in an unfortunate defeat for Huskies on April 5. Despite the best efforts of the 26 varsity members participating in this tournament, victory was seized by the visiting team. A combination of factors could be pointed at as the cause of a shutout game against Washington. The lack of cutoffs, outside experience and training by the players on the team, and the inevitable dearth of practice and knowledge brought about by COVID all contributed to the result of the tournament. 

Compared to Washington, schools like Irvington and Mission often have “club trained” players, meaning those who take lessons outside of what is offered by their school’s sports team. The fact that Washington declares badminton a no-cut sport also served to distance Washington from the best. Unlike other sports teams both at Washington and at other schools, a position on the team is not dictated by ability. Anyone can join, and as a result, anyone can compete. According to Coach Harvey of the badminton team, “Open gyms in the off-season are attended by more Newark and American [students] than Washington students.” While Washington utilizes open-gym style practice rather than strict sessions of exercising, players and the coach believe that it can prove just as effective as a traditional practice. Despite the difficulty of training new players in a matter of months rather than multiple seasons, the exercise and lessons built by the bi-weekly practice of Washington are hoped to incrementally increase our school’s skill both on and off the court.

Although no badminton players were able to succeed in their best of three rounds against the team from Mission San Jose, the experience was a valuable one for all those on the team. Both the players themselves and the coach expressed a desire to improve their skills and repertoire to boost the school’s status in the badminton leagues. Coach Harvey said he hopes that returning players can benefit from his coaching method, “using physics, physiology, geometry, chess and fun.” Aakkash Muthukumar of the JV team also believes that “as a team, we should spend more time on drills to get our basic skills… use the weight room to build our muscles. Introduce cutoffs on skills.” As the coach of Washington’s JV and Varsity badminton team plans on retiring this year, we can only hope that their competitiveness can improve both in this season and all those to come. However, with no replacement in sight, the future of the team can’t be described as certain. If Washington changes up the structure of how it approaches badminton, and models it on other sports with cuts and other requirements, perhaps their performance will improve. Only time will tell.

Side view of Washington badminton matches.

Back view of Washington badminton matches.

Conley Shen is 15 years old, and a junior at Washington High School. He was born and raised in Fremont, where he has lived all his life. This is his first year being a part of the school newspaper, and has interest in covering a variety of subjects. He is a current member of the Washington debate club, and some of his hobbies include looking for, and finding new novel series to enjoy. After high school, he hopes to enter college before graduating and entering the workforce.

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