New club gets badminton to the frontcourt


Nanditha Nagavishnu

Junior Koharo Ito waits to return a serve during the badminton club’s first meeting after an informational session the previous day. “I wanted to play sports but didn’t want to try out,” Koharo said. “I am an exchange student from Japan, and I was part of the badminton club in my school there so wanted to join one here too.” Club leaders brought rackets, shuttlecocks and portable nets as members played in groups across the crowded gym.

Nanditha Nagavishnu

After the boys’ volleyball club last year and a cricket club earlier this year, the new badminton club founded by sophomores Zunnoorain Unnissa, Jahnavi Talla and Sowmya Velayutham reiterates a statement about maximum inclusivity in athletic options.

Badminton’s popularity as a competitive sport is concentrated in Asia and remains, for the most part, a “backyard sport” in the U.S. With such clubs filling in, the school creates an environment where sidelined sports can be highlighted.

“The badminton club is not only for people who know how to play, but so that people can get interested in it,” club president Unnissa said, “You see how popular tennis is over here? Badminton is also a racquet sport but gets nowhere near as much recognition as tennis does. We want to increase its hype.”

Without much promotion apart from word-of-mouth and flyers around school, their first meeting seemed to gather at least 60 people according to Unnissa. The club meets Tuesday and Thursday during SOAR time in either of the two gyms, where badminton racquets and shuttlecocks are provided.

“I think [the turnout] is because badminton is a fun sport,” vice president Talla said, “The people who don’t know much about it are eager to play it. You don’t need a lot of strength to play badminton, or a lot of years of practice. It’s easy to understand for the most part.”

Badminton is also a racquet sport but gets nowhere near as much recognition as tennis does.

— Zunnoorain Unnissa

The club recently implemented a sign up process for SOAR time plays so that gyms don’t get overcrowded. In the first meeting, too many people had to wait for their turns and this discouraged serious and sustained play. The founders are also looking to add more leadership positions.

“Right now, it’s just a fun club for everyone to play and learn about the sport with their friends,” Talla said, “We want to start competing with other schools, such as Frisco schools, maybe later on or next year. There’s a lot of people in our club who have played as professionals in leagues or competitively for quite a bit of years.”

The school doesn’t have badminton courts, and there are no public courts in Prosper. Wind can be a problem when playing outdoors due to the hollow, lightweight shuttles. For people who might not get time or have access to play badminton outside of school, the club provides an avenue to practice and learn its skills.

“I used to play professionally, but wasn’t playing hardcore up until a month before I started the club,” Unnissa said, “I feel like I’m regaining my skills after starting to play a little bit more, but I’m definitely not as good as some other kids in the club.”

Anyone is welcome to join the badminton club regardless of their familiarity with the sport. You can reach out to the leaders or find their Google Classroom code on one of the many flyers around school.