By Vivian Kaleta, Copy Editor
Maggie Tsyganova (far right) with her badminton teammates.
As the spring sports season begins many teams have started practicing including Payton’s badminton team.
Maggie Tsyganova is one of this year’s Varsity Payton badminton players. Before discovering badminton, Maggie was an active tennis player, but after she an introduction during her middle school’s PE class, she found badminton to be even more fun.
Many might immediately associate badminton with leisure or a casual form of play. Tsyganova, however, highlights that this is a clear misunderstanding. “Competitive badminton is definitely an intense sport. One requires a lot of power to hit many of the shots.” According to Tsyganova, there is nuanced expertise required of any skilled player. “There is an emphasis on footwork and proper technique, as well as practicing various shots during practice.” This rigorous preparation is especially important as Tsyganova says her team faces a lot of tough competition specifically against skilled suburban schools.
Around the same time the spring season began, Chicago Public Schools officially went mask-optional. When asked how this policy change made this season different from last year’s, Tsyganova said “It was definitely challenging having to wear a mask regularly at practice last year, especially given how intense the sport can be.”
The subsiding of the pandemic has also brought the badminton team closer together. “I think we are all excited that we are back to regular team practices because we didn’t get a season freshman year and had student-led practices last year. Tsyganova explained. “Having practiced with an outside coach this year has been really beneficial to the team.”
Though there are many benefits to playing badminton, players also come across some hardships. There are 90-minute practices most days of the week, which could be a time adjustment for any students who weren’t playing a sport during the fall and winter. Tsyganova, however, said that the commitment is not particularly new to her as she is also a part of the chess team, which has similar practice requirements. In the end, the enjoyment that comes from playing badminton is worth it to Tsyganova. “Practice is almost like a reward.”