Cal welcomes new badminton team

Grizzlies join DV, SRV as only schools in EBAL offering sport


Photo courtesy of Patch

Cal High is joining other Bay Area schools such as San Leandro High School, pictured above, by adding a badminton team.

This spring, the birdies will fly at Cal High.
Cal is fielding a badminton team for the first time in school history.
With Cal’s new badminton team, opportunities have opened up and people have the chance of having fun together. Players will be able to participate in training, practices, and matches against each other and other schools
Within EBAL, San Ramon Valley, Dougherty Valley, and now Cal have badminton teams. Although Cal hasn’t had a badminton team until now, badminton has been a sanctioned sport by the California Interscholastic Federation since 1980.
The main reason Cal is forming a team is due to one student, who felt that this sport could offer many students the opportunity to come together and connect with each other. This was senior Srinidhi Kanchi Krishnamachari.
“All the other schools around us have badminton teams, and I didn’t really understand why Cal High didn’t have one,” Krishnamachari said. “I thought since we don’t have a badminton team, and also because a lot of people here at Cal High are interested, so I thought by creating one, people could join.”
Badminton is played using birdies, also known as shuttlecocks, which are small foam balls that have a plastic cone-shaped net attached to one side. These birdies are hit back and forth over a raised net, similar to a tennis net, using rackets with long handles.
The game, played individually or with a partner like tennis, is a point-based. The player who lets the birdie touch the ground causes the other player to earn a point.
The player who claims the best of three games first is the winner. Each game is played to 21 points, and a player must win by two points.
Since the game is typically played indoors on a small court that is modeled after a tennis court, and has other similarities to tennis, it made sense for Manuel Vasquez to be the first badminton coach.
Vasquez, who is the current boy’s and girl’s tennis coach, took the badminton job not only to help the school with the new team but also to venture into a new field.
“For now, it’s just a [new] sport, make it fun for the kids, just to get it started, so people don’t think it’s too hard or mean, so basically it’s more for fun,” Vasquez said. “My job is to just let them have fun and love it.”
With expectations fairly light for the students, Vasquez said that nearly 100 students signed up for the new team, which began tryouts on Monday.
Vasquez said before tryouts that he intended to not cut any students this year. He also initially planned to only offer a varsity team for the inaugural season.
But after seeing the large number of sign-ups,Vasquez said he is contemplating offering a junior varsity team, depending on how things pan out during tryouts.
Cal athletic director Chad Ross is also heavily involved with the new program by helping address all of the team’s needs this season.
“I will help support the coaching staff and students with equipment, scheduling, or any other needs that I can help with,” Ross said.
With many students interested in joining the badminton team, there are a wide variety of goals they hope to achieve during this season. Some of these goals range from fielding a competitive team to just having fun playing the school’s newest sport.
Junior Keisha Virani, who signed up for the team, said she has five to six years of prior experience under her belt as she played badminton competitively in India, where she received high-level coaching.
“I just want the good competition,” Virani said. “I know I have the motivation to do well, so I think I can do well.”
Sophomore Timothy Liang, who has five to six years of prior experience playing badminton recreationally, is excited about the competition that comes from playing on a school team.
“I’m looking forward to playing competitively, beating other schools, and playing alongside new teammates,” Liang said.