Middlebury Club Badminton is an up-and-coming program at the college that prides itself on an inclusive environment through open-door practices and a flexible training schedule. Members and non-members alike are free to walk onto any available court, pick up a racquet and shuttlecock and start playing a game. Rather than club leadership dictating the agenda for each practice, Club Badminton lets its players choose how they will spend their time playing badminton — from working on specific skills and techniques to playing casual matches. Members hail from a wide range of skill levels, meaning that one can always find a partner and hone their skills.
Giving players the ability to decide their own schedules fosters a growth-oriented environment where veterans and newcomers alike can develop their badminton skills at their own pace. Playing in an environment that emphasizes learning over competition also allows players to interact and train with one another more freely. Veteran players are eager to help newcomers in learning how to play the sport.
“For those that want to learn the sport, it’s a great environment,” said Sophie Ashworth ’24, one of the club’s co-presidents. “You get out what you put in.”
The sport itself also allows students to get to know other players quickly. Especially during doubles matches, players are given the opportunity to bond with their opponents or teammate over the game at hand.
“Playing with an unfamiliar face forces you to get to know your teammate on a personal level very quickly,” Ashworth said. “When I’m playing a doubles match, telling my teammate ‘I need your help here’ or ‘I can’t do this’ creates an implicit sense of trust and camaraderie between us.”
Club Badminton has not played any competitive matches this year and it doesn’t pressure itself to do so — at least not in the near future. Rather than concerning itself with traveling to other schools that are hours away, Ashworth stated that club leadership is focused on cultivating interest within the Middlebury student body. Plans for larger events such as a future intra-Middlebury badminton tournament, open to all students regardless of membership, are being floated as next steps to attracting more students to the club.
“I feel like the people I’ve met through badminton are those that I would never have met otherwise,” Ashworth remarked. “I’m grateful for them.”