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The joy of badminton: A look into club sports at St. Olaf

With the student activities fair just behind us, students can easily find themselves wrapped up in clubs and student organizations. However, one of the athletic clubs that should not be overlooked is the badminton club. 

When entering the Tostrud Center’s field house on Wednesday or Saturday afternoons, one can find oddly lined courts filled with people jumping and lunging around trying to return a feathered cone. This thrilling experience? Badminton.

The badminton club is one of many club sports on campus and allows people of any experience level to try the unconventional activity in a welcoming environment. No equipment is even needed to attend practices, all of the birdies and racquets are kindly provided by the club. Additionally, the badminton club offers numerous chances to meet new people, all while getting in an incredible workout. “Anyone can come. It’s super informal, it’s mainly just a way to play badminton for fun with friends,” said badminton club president Tim Nguyen ’22.

Nguyen was handed the position of club president just this year after many of the previous leaders graduated or left the club. During the 2020-21 school year, a group was still able to hold practices with social distancing and masks. Additionally, all racquets were sanitized and attendance was taken for contact tracing. The social distancing aspect was not as challenging for singles players as it was for doubles.

Within badminton, there are two main options for games: singles and doubles. In singles, one player covers each side of the longer and narrower court, while in doubles there are teams of two on each side that play within the outermost lines. The goal in either version is to hit the birdie over the net and to a place that is difficult for your opponent to return, similarly to volleyball or tennis. In badminton club practices, doubles is the dominant option, with many friend groups competing in pairs. However, this became a problem last year during COVID-19, as social distancing did not allow such close contact.  

As far as tournaments and competitions go, Nguyen says that there is no current plan to have an official St. Olaf team. But the intramural team draws enough interest for a small tournament, with a decently nice shirt for the winner. Otherwise, fun and non-competitive games occur at nearly every practice. The informal games are a perfect way to learn the sport. 

Previously, the club has held small tournaments with Carleton’s badminton club. Nguyen says that there is currently no plan for a similar event this school year, but the badminton club leadership is always on the lookout for tournament opportunities.

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