Excitement for badminton grows at BHS

Badminton at Berkeley High School is not the same today as it used to be. Badminton was often regarded as a no-cut sport or as a way to get easy PE credits.


Badminton at Berkeley High School is not the same today as it used to be. Badminton was often regarded as a no-cut sport or as a way to get easy PE credits. The team would have barely enough players to fill out the roster. For years, BHS badminton teams struggled to compete with other schools, not because of lack of talent, but because of lack of commitment. BHS would go into games already forfeiting because they didn’t have enough players to even compete. 

“When I was a student we had about 60 or 70 people at tryouts every year and about half of them got cut,” said Kyle Hayden, the BHS badminton coach and a BHS badminton alumni who graduated in 2014. However, that had changed when Hayden returned. “When I took over as a coach at Berkeley High (School), the expectation was that badminton was a no-cut sport; if you can do tryouts, you made the team. That’s just because the turnout was so low, which is the opposite of how badminton had been here before.” 

This issue was only worsened with the pandemic. Hayden, who started in 2020, said that the juniors and seniors who had been on the team before going into remote learning came back to practice after the pandemic with a great work ethic and intensity. However, the underclassmen struggled with dedication to the sport. “The attendance was much worse and there wasn’t as much of an expectation of how much effort you would have to put in. A lot of people were just showing up for the PE credits,” he said. 

The coach and players believe that this was due to not having enough excitement and culture around playing badminton. Because there was a period where badminton at BHS was not taken seriously, there weren’t as many upperclassmen encouraging new students to join the team and providing role models in badminton. 

Additionally, for many years, there wasn’t a long-term coach for the team. “I wanted to come back and give more support and security to the players, and they know that if they’re here for four years, I’m gonna be the coach. I’m gonna be here. I’m gonna be cheering them on the whole time,” said Hayden.

Despite these obstacles, under Hayden’s coaching, the badminton team has been able to make strides in recreating the badminton team and experience Hayden had when he was a student at BHS. This year there are 40 players on the team, and many people had to be cut during tryouts, which         shows an influx   of people who are excited about badminton and want to play the sport. 

“There’s definitely been upperclassmen … creating that community and taking the badminton class during the day and they’re getting people in the class excited about it harder,” said Hayden about the causes of more players trying out. 

“I think the group of people promoted it, so more and more people knew it was a sport you had to take seriously, and then (Coach Hayden) did a great job of letting people know they had to take it seriously,” said Paul Bishop, a junior on the badminton team. 

“I think definitely we were inspired a lot by our captain last year who trained an insane amount,” said Antonio Quinto, a senior on the badminton team. 

“I’d say we’re 75 percent of the way to where I remember it being,” said Hayden. “We had a huge turnout for the boys events, (but) still not that many girls … which always makes me sad,” he said. 

Hayden hopes that more players will play badminton all four years of high school, to limit the skill gap between players. “I would love to see more people coming out year after year so you have more and more people putting in effort. And even if people aren’t training in the off season, they’re here and they’re committing to all four years,” said Hayden.