When you hear the word “birdie,” what do you think of? A golf term? A childish reference to an individual of the avian kind? Or are you one of the rare few who immediately associates it with the sport of badminton? For the quartet that makes up one of the four teams in the intramural league that refer to themselves as the Badmittens, they can now count themselves among the few.
Ringleader and team captain Jenna Currier (’23) openly shared her inspiration for starting the group: “I first played badminton in my gym class freshman year of high school and really enjoyed it. I signed us up for the competitive intramural league thinking we are all athletic and competent players. . . We have lost all three games so far. I am optimistic, however, as the last game ended in a tie. I like to think we are on a learning curve, but these other teams are on a whole different level.” Despite having a rough start to the season, Currier easily laughed it off and concluded her interview by expressing a sentiment repeated by all of her teammates, “Even though we are not the best at badminton, I have loved the team aspect I have missed since high school sports. Intramurals offer me that family feel without the stress of winning or losing.”
Being the most experienced member of the team, Delanie Riebschleger (’23) relates the sport to relaxing summer memories. She revealed, “I started playing badminton when I was very young up at my cottage every summer with my family. We had a net in the backyard and held tournaments: doubles, singles; you name it, we did it. As a college student, my favorite part of playing an intramural is the stress relief it offers me. I used to play tennis, but I love how with badminton, I can hit the birdie as hard as I can, and it will stay in play, whereas in tennis I had to be more controlled. Just being able to take a week’s frustration out in a competitive, good-natured game with friends has been great.” The captain poked fun at her teammate and said, “While it’s all in good fun, we can get a little intense. Currier’s forearm always hurts the day after the match because she grips the racket so hard.”
College is all about pushing your limits and escaping your comfort zone in a controlled environment. For Grace Stalions (’23), badminton is a step beyond her normal. She confessed, “This is my first time playing badminton, and I struggle most with getting the birdie over the net. That has been a challenge. However, I am quickly improving and love this opportunity to destress and meet new people while enjoying myself with friends. Honestly, I would highly recommend intramurals to anyone, not even necessarily badminton, as I realize that’s not everyone’s thing. But it’s always healthy to take time out of a crazy schedule to relax!”
As the final member and only boy on the team, Colin Salamone (’23) admits that he was actually looking into the sport before Riebschleger reached out to him: “I used to play a lot of tennis with my friends, so I was looking for something similar to participate in. One of the hardest adjustments was learning to handle a racket that was so much smaller than a tennis racket, as well as getting a feel for the birdie, which is so much lighter than a ball.” Salamone was quick to assert that badminton is always going to sound a little obscure, so newcomers don’t need to be wary. He confessed, “When I told my family I was on the intramural team, my mom acted like I was a little crazy and questioned why I was playing badminton. To be honest, I didn’t see myself playing badminton before this year but adopted the mentality that if you never try something, you’ll never know if you like it or not.”
It is common knowledge that students involved in sports usually display lower levels of stress and better time management skills, and in turn, have better grades. That is not to say that a workout at the Dow or a run downtown won’t offer the same results, but for those students who crave a structured game with a team aspect, perhaps it’s time to learn a new definition for the word “birdie.”