Badminton enrollment on the rise

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Mae Azucena in a singles tournament during Badminton class. (Lea Naqishbendi)

Shuttlecock. Bird. Long racquet. Badminton is gaining popularity at Skyline College as well as in the Bay Area.

The flimsy looking racket can rocket a bird up to 100 mph across a court. Despite the high speed of play, badminton is fun to play and students know it.

Jan Fosberg has been teaching the sport at Skyline for 12 years. Compared to her other classes of golf, archery, spinning, cross-training, and hiking, badminton is the most popular this semester and said that students think of the class as fun social experience.

“What I like about badminton is that it’s fast paced,” Fosberg said. “It’s all about footwork and how you move around the court.”

Eddy Harris, another badminton teacher at Skyline, has also noticed a rise in the sport’s popularity.

Harris estimated his class had 10 more students compared to last semester. He attributes the rise in enrollment is due to multiple factors, with half the students needing college physical education credits and the other half taking it simply for fun and exercise.

“Students thought it would be the easiest thing to take but it’s actually not,” said Harris. “You’re moving back and forth breaking a sweat.”

While both instructors said they were happy with the increase in badminton popularity, a drawback of having more students in class was the lack of gym space and available courts. Less singles game tournaments can be played and students spend more time playing doubles games.

Some students don’t seem to mind though. Jeffery Ng enjoys sitting and chatting with friends while waiting for his turn to play a singles game.

“We don’t have enough courts so we take a break,” Ng said. “Doubles games seem more interesting, but with singles you move around the courts more and there are no communication errors.”

Many students play badminton outside of class and attributed their interest in the sport to high school classes. Others simply grew up playing it in their backyards with friends and family.

Some students make use of the Bay Badminton Center in South San Francisco while others such as Leah De la Cruz play at the Veteran Memorial Center.

Skyline also has a women’s varsity badminton team coached by Fosberg that competes in the spring.There is no men’s team but informal tournaments are occasionally held.

“It’s like dancing; there are steps,” explained Fosberg after she showed her students a foot technique and swing before their in-class singles tournament.

Following her instruction, multiple swishing sounds were heard as students started swinging their rackets to practice the drill.