Putting the “Bad” in Badminton: A profile of GDS’s finest club

Zachary Bergman

For the past four years, students and teachers have been coming together once a week to play a sport they all love: badminton.  The club was founded by longtime PE teacher and coach Harold Newton after many of his students expressed interest in playing badminton regularly.  “A lot of it came from [my students],” Newton said, “because they were really into badminton so we started out just playing at lunch… Some members of the club went from not caring about badminton at all to super serious badminton players.”  Newton described the club as “a playing experience;” club members spend all of their time at meetings actually playing the game of badminton.

Aside from allowing club members to play a sport they are interested in, badminton club gives students an opportunity to take it easy and unwind.  “I come [to badminton club] very tired and stressed after school,” said Junior Lulu Feldman.  “I just get to talk to my friends and play a sport which is very active and great.  It’s not competitive, it just makes me feel relaxed and happy.”  In addition, the club meetings give people a chance to “gather with a group that [they] normally wouldn’t gather with,” as Junior Alan Jinich put it.  “It’s really fun because I don’t only play with my immediate friends,” he continued, “I also get to play with teachers and other students that I generally wouldn’t talk to.”

Badminton club will be suffering a major loss at the end of the school year when Newton, the club’s founder and faculty advisor, retires from teaching.  “It’s gonna be a huge L actually,” said Jinich.  “It’s going to suck because Harold is kind of the life of badminton club.”  Feldman shared Jinich’s sentiment.  “It’s going to be really sad without Harold,” she said,  “He’s definitely the main contributor to the club.  He holds it together and he recruits new members.”  Although they will never be able to replace Newton, the club’s leaders are currently in the midst of a search for a new faculty advisor, according to Feldman.  “There are some teachers who come often,” Feldman stated, “including Phil Bansal, but he’s leaving as well, and the French teachers — Belinda Lartey and Veronique Mattei — they come often, so we’re going to ask them, but we’ll see.”

Some clubs, such as climbing and squash, seem to be heading in the direction of officially becoming a part of the GDS athletics program.  Badminton club, however, will remain a club for the foreseeable future.  “I think it’ll continue staying pretty small,” Jinich explained, “because it’s not really a team that competes against other schools, so it’s more just recreational after school, so I think it’ll just continue staying small and chill and non-competitive, unless you’re playing me, in which case it is very competitive.”  Jinich and his doubles partner, Junior Jared Goldstein, are the reigning champions of the badminton tournament that is held once or twice per year.  Newton shared Jinich’s point of view, saying that he “basically sees it as just a club,” and said that in the past they had tried and failed to set up a matches with Sidwell.

This is not seen as negative, however, as many of the club’s participants are just there to relax and have a good time in a fun, non-competitive atmosphere.  As Jinich put it, they “just really like playing badminton.”