Season takes flight

Junior Ella Graeb, senior Ivy Shen and junior Nora Sripraram warm up during practice.

Leah Packer

Junior Ella Graeb, senior Ivy Shen and junior Nora Sripraram warm up during practice.

As the start of spring sports rolled around, the girls badminton team, lead by head coach Katie Maley started their brief, but action-packed 10-week season of competing and practicing. 

There was a four day tryout process to determine who would make it onto what would ultimately be a 44-person team. Girls badminton has three separate teams that people could try out for: varsity, junior varsity, and freshman.

“I was a little nervous, but it was fun overall. So I was just looking forward to it,” said Sophia Ibrahim, freshman. 

Many girls practiced outside of school at Midwest Badminton Club to prepare for the tryout. Tryouts consisted of 15-minute endurance runs and playing badminton skills to assess who could keep up on the court. 

According to Sara Izhard, when the tryout process finally finished, the players were called up one by one to get informed on if they made the team.

“I felt really surprised and really happy about getting on the team,” said Sara Izhar, sophomore on junior varsity.

From there, the badminton team began to practice. Head Coach Maley coaches varsity, Serge Pensik coaches junior varsity, and Courtney Wallace coaches the freshman team. 

A certain aspect of the girls badminton team is that unlike other sports, all three teams get to play together at the same time, typically practicing in the field house. For tournaments during the week, all teams will travel together as well. 

As mentioned by Coach Maley, practices typically begin with warm-ups or jogging. The players then practice certain skills and drills before playing actual badminton games at the end of practice. The daily practices are to prepare the players for upcoming tournaments.

“I just love seeing them out there on the court competing,” said Maley, who has been coaching the girls badminton team for 15 years.

Junior Maria Jiao gets ready to serve during practice. (Leah Packer)

 And Hinsdale Central has been successful in competing over the years. In the time the badminton program has been around, the girls badminton team has placed in the top 10 at state 24 times. On the local scale, the conference has some of the strongest teams including the Downers Grove high schools, Lyons Township, and Hinsdale is no exception, competing for the top spot throughout the seasons.

The badminton program has also gone through changes throughout its time. Scoring has changed to rally scoring, where instead of the serving side being able to earn the point, any side can. The program, as Coach Maley put it, has become more popular as people are participating in outside classes and training more.

The current team has already kept up this evolving legacy. The Varsity team won their meet against Lockport High School on March 14, and won once again on March 15. The team continues to practice for the upcoming meets and state championships that are later in May.

“I’m very lucky. All the girls who come are really passionate about the sport and they like to stick with it, which I like,” Maley said. 

Check the activities website for updates on the badminton team and to see upcoming tournaments and meets the players will participate in.