As the spring sports season draws to a close, the SIS varsity badminton teams concluded a preparatory year in anticipation of its upcoming status as an official AISA, varsity, and hopefully in the future, KAIAC sport. With both AISA and the school administration confirming its decision to formally recognize badminton beginning with the 2019-‘20 school year, the varsity teams spent this year’s season preparing for the leap. The SIS teams practiced playing under formal KAIAC and AISA conditions by participating in an unofficial league organized by Cheongna Dalton School. The organization offered a chance for players to experience KAIAC-style matches by simulating league play, inter-school competition, score-keeping, set matches, etc.
“The KAIAC league next year is going to have the same structure and format as the informal Cheongna Dalton league this year,” said Alexander Weir, badminton head coach. “This year was like a test run of the template that we are going to use next year’s KAIAC activities.”
The badminton teams not only prepared players for next year’s regular season but also tournament play. Select members of the boys and girls teams were chosen to participate in the Jeju Invitational Tournament hosted by Korea International School Jeju from April 11 to April 14. The selective and far-reaching nature of the event created an atmosphere similar to those of AISA sports tournaments, providing valuable experience for SIS athletes. The informal regular season league organized by Cheongna Dalton School also culminated into a tournament that was hosted on April 20. At this competition, the top two players from each of the six schools participating in the informal Cheongna Dalton league were invited to participate.
“I think the tournaments helped me learn a lot about how to play in the uptight environment of an organized tournament,” said Hyeonmin Chang (10), badminton athlete. “I think the Jeju Invitational Tournament specifically will help me next year due to the valuable experience of playing in a long distance tournament with far-reaching competition.”
Although badminton is set to become an official varsity sport in the upcoming school year, Ivan Atanaskovic, SIS athletics and activity coordinator, has raised concerns about student commitment to the sport. According to Coach Weir, there were some issues regarding making badminton activities and tournaments a priority for student-athletes this year. Mr. Atanaskovic has emphasized that although students will be able to letter in the sport next year, greater dedication to badminton will be necessary.
“We would like to provide an opportunity to participate in badminton because we know that there is a lot of interest,” said Mr. Atanaskovic. “It’s a popular sport. People like it, but once we set the teams there are certain expectations for those teams. If you’re going to represent our school, it reflects poorly on us if you cancel participation in tournaments and other activities last minute.”