Hustle, hit, and never quit

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Hustle, hit, and never quit

Getting ready to serve, Liu gets into position before she strikes the birdie

Getting ready to serve, Liu gets into position before she strikes the birdie

Kayla Fiore

Getting ready to serve, Liu gets into position before she strikes the birdie

Kayla Fiore

Kayla Fiore

Getting ready to serve, Liu gets into position before she strikes the birdie

Abbey Humbert and Demi Glusic

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Back to the basics

Badminton is a physically and mentally exhausting game of strategic skills. It demands for the right timing and positioning to hit the birdie. Senior Katherine Liu knows the demand for such skill.

Born in Florida, right outside of Disney World, Liu’s childhood was Goofy. She moved to Libertyville around first grade, where she and her family had to get to know a new area. The transition was difficult but worth it.

Liu has many qualities that make her stand out from other students at LHS. Her love for puns contributes to her witty sense of humor. Making people laugh is something that makes her happy. Liu plays the viola and is involved in musical activities at the school. Her family loves to travel and explore new places. But what stands out about Liu is that she has a love for badminton. Badminton is not a casual interest for Liu but rather, a passion.

According to Liu, her interest for badminton took off in seventh grade. In the beginning, it was just a “backyard sport” that was fun to play from time to time. One thing led to the next and Liu’s father started playing for a team. Occasionally, she would tag along. Ever since then, the birdie has been flying off the racket since Liu learned the fundamentals of badminton.

Liu was asked why she plays badminton. Is it for the thrill or the adrenaline rush?

She responded, laughing, “This sounds really weird, but when you hit it right, the sound it makes, it’s really satisfying. Obviously I don’t play just for that sound, but I feel like that’s one of the biggest rewards.”

The sound might be one of the most rewarding moments, but the memories are rewarding as well.

 

What is Badminton?

Badminton can be either a recreational or competitive sport. It is played on a court that is either slightly smaller or slightly bigger than a volleyball court, depending on if the game being played is singles or doubles, respectively.

Liu plays singles most often, but is sometimes paired up with others (who do not attend LHS) to play in doubles matches.

According to the Badminton World Federation, when played competitively, a match consists of a best-of-three games format, with 21 points needed to win a game.

Badminton, like volleyball, has rally scoring, meaning that you don’t need to be serving to score the point. Scoring points involves hitting the shuttlecock, also known as a birdie, with a racquet over a rectangular net dividing the two sides of the court.

A point is made when either the opponent lets the birdie fall to touch the ground, it goes out of bounds or is hit to the wrong side of the court. The current score also determines the side both opponents are standing on.

“If your score is even, you stand on the right. If your score is odd, you stand on the left,” explained Liu.

 

Offseason

During the offseason (June-Febuary), time commitment does not cease for Liu’s passion to play badminton. Finding spare time, Liu still tries to get out and practice as much as her schedule will allow her. Depending on the season, she sometimes has to take a lengthy 45-minute drive down to Schaumburg to play; she does this two-to-three times a week.

 

Single but ready to mingle

This school year, as well as the past three school years, Liu has been the only person who plays badminton for LHS. Her situation tends to attract people’s attention, and then she has to explain her unique situation to them.

When asked about how these conversations usually turn out, Liu had no hesitation with her answer.

“I explain my situation, and then we become friends. I don’t know how that works,” Liu said, laughing.

Through badminton, Liu has become close with her coach, Mrs. Judi Neuberger, a counselor in the A-F LST.

“I have so much respect for [Katherine], as she is always willing to work hard and be present,” said Mrs. Neuberger. “I think she respects me as someone who believes in her and her ability to excel.”

Mrs. Neuberger and Liu met her freshmen year, but they previously knew each other from a friendship that consisted of Andy Liu, Katherine’s brother, and Matthew Neuberger, Mrs. Neuberger’s son, in second grade. They had not known each other on an athletic level yet; Mrs. Neuberger knew her solely as a loving sister.

Liu is the only athlete Mrs. Neuberger coaches. Therefore, playing against Liu at practice makes it hard to coach and make corrections while trying to concentrate on the game itself. This is something that Mrs. Neuberger has developed over time, along with learning new skills that contribute to the game of badminton.

 

The Supporters

In Liu’s opinion, it is important to have the support of others. Because she doesn’t play with a team, there is not a big fan section. The people who support her are the fans that count. One of her biggest supporters is her father, who got her involved with the sport and has been supporting her during the whole process. Close friends and family support Liu, but her father is the one who shows up to all of her invites and games.

“He’s just always kind of been there, cause when you’re by yourself, [and] you don’t have anyone else, you learn to rely on [the supporters]. You don’t need that many, right, so then I’m like ‘Oh, my dad’s here,’ and then I can just see him. It’s just really supporting knowing someone’s there,” explains Liu.

 

Balancing Act

Between sports and school, managing both at the same time can prove to be a difficult task. Badminton is no exception.

At first, Liu only came to practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the days when intramural badminton was held. Come junior year, she requested a gym exemption, which meant that she must have practices every day to qualify. Arriving at school by 6 a.m. nearly every morning for practice has turned into a routine for Liu.

Liu joked that getting enough sleep for school is the biggest sacrifice she makes for playing badminton. Aside from that, she explained what her thinking process is.

“You just pick out what’s important, like ‘Oh, I have a Spanish test today, but my grade in Spanish is high enough to sacrifice a few points,”” she shared. “You can’t do everything well, and that’s important to recognize.”

 

Achievements

Years of practicing and hard work put into badminton for Liu have certainly paid off. In both her sophomore and junior year at LHS, she qualified to go down to state. Though Liu mentioned that previously she didn’t get far in state, she hopes to reach this accomplishment of qualifying again this year.

Liu admitted that going to state alone was a bit lonely but also fun because she met new people who she still has a relationship with today.

Mrs. Neuberger also mentioned that Liu won two tournaments at 1st Varsity Singles last year before moving on to Sectionals.

To Liu, one of the most rewarding moments for her was not on such a big scale as these other achievements mentioned:

“Sophomore year sectionals, I was playing a girl and we were kind of the same level, so it was really close. Either one of us could win, and I’d be fine with it, because we were both kind of the same,”  Liu explained, reminiscing. “It’s best two out-of-three. We were tied, and then I won and that was rewarding, because the score was something like 27-25.”

Much of Liu’s personal success can be attributed towards her positive outlook on life and bubbly personality that she brings onto the court during every game.

 

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