Amid COVID-19, badminton builds community, skills

Eden Drajpuch, Features Editor

Without a definite state competition in sight due to COVID-19, ETHS’ badminton team has had to ground themselves in the matches they are able to have and set their sights further into the future.

Most notably, the team tied with Maine South for fourth place in their conference championship.

“It’s honestly really fun [with] all the practices and tournaments and playing,” senior Becky Arden said. “I really like this sport.”

Throughout their season, the badminton team has had the opportunity to travel to and host other schools for matches, despite being unable to attend larger tournaments. These matches have afforded them the chance to play competitively while still doing their part to mitigate COVID-19 cases.

“Everyone on the team is pretty safe. This year, we’re only playing in our conference and not doing any tournaments at all. I think the coach, my teammates and me just want to keep everything really safe and not risk anything,” senior Emily Ho explained.

Additionally, the badminton team has still worked to form a community, albeit in different ways than in years past.

“I played tennis and soccer and ice skating too, but with badminton it was a lot different because it felt like there was a community there,” Ho said. “Sometimes we have periods of time, either before practice or after practice or at water breaks when we just talk. Even at matches, everyone’s around, and we just talk.”

The badminton team has undoubtedly relied on this community throughout such an unprecedented season.

“I’d say there’s a good sense of community, but it’s more quiet,” Arden says. “I think everyone’s a little more focused than [in] normal years. But, I really like getting to know everyone.”

This year, the team has specifically worked to improve their doubles techniques; they have also encouraged underclassmen to look ahead to future years of competition.

“We have to work on different types of strategies and getting our shot to the right place. With the drills we’ve been doing, that’s gotten a lot better,” Ho explained. “Then, hopefully for next year, when the juniors become seniors, they’ll be in a good enough position. Hopefully there’s sectionals for them so they could play there [and] possibly qualify for state.”

While the Kits have enjoyed being able to form a community this year, they are continuing to look towards future seasons.

“I’m very sad that I’m a senior,” Arden says. “Normally, the big goal is always to do well at state, [but] I guess [I’d like] to improve as much as we can in the next few weeks while we still have badminton and make sure when I leave I’m leaving a good team.”