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Islander badminton still going strong into third season
For most spring season athletes, competing in spring means looking forward to competing outdoors. But for those taking part in badminton, the real fun takes place indoors.
Now in its third year at Mercer Island High School, the Mercer Island badminton team is showing its power in numbers while having fun in the process.
“We like to keep badminton fun,” said coach Roy Newton.
Newton said his badminton team is a young team with lots of potential, which he hopes to bring up. “Our goal is to get these young girls more experience so we can make for a stronger team these next few years,” he said. “We have a pretty new team with new players. Our first game against Juanita was the first game for some girls. But after that first game, they went in ready to go, like veterans.”
Badminton came to Mercer Island through Title IX, providing another option for girls spring sports. Although not sanctioned by the WIAA, the sport has been spreading to Eastside schools as a club sport.
While turnout numbers may not be as high as neighboring schools with stronger programs such as Bellevue or Sammamish, they are on the rise at Mercer Island. Newton said the number of athletes turning out for badminton jumped from 22 last year to 34 athletes this year. “It’s becoming more and more popular,” he said. “We had quite a few freshman. We didn’t have enough uniforms.”
“It’s definitely grown in size,” said senior captain Audrey Marr, who’s played on the badminton team since its inception in 2012. “A lot of girls don’t want to get involved with too much physical activity. It’s a great sport to bond with girls.”
Marr said the sport pretty much promotes itself as a no-cut sport at MIHS that is fun to play with a team that tries to create a welcoming setting for its members. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to get better; co-captain Ashlyn Reid wants to keep recruiting incoming students, and recruit early.