DeKALB – The DeKalb badminton team looks to repeat the success of the past years and bring along a new crop of players in 2018.
The team has three returning state qualifiers in doubles and a foreign exchange student who grew up playing the game.
“Our top four are very solid. Three of the top four went to state the past two years,” coach Zachary Effler said.
Each of the top four players has a role as a leader on the team.
Sophomore En-Tso Liou comes to DeKalb from Taiwan and brings a different perspective on playing the game.
“I played badminton for seven years, so I have more experience,” Liou said. “I try to share with people, not just skills, but how to face your emotions.”
Senior Hui Zhu, whom Effler calls “The Technician,” models the correct form for the young players and is hungry for another shot at the state tournament.
“I really hope to get to the second day of state. We were really close last year. Our last match, if we had won it, we would have been in the top 16 in state. I really hope to win this year,” Zhu said.
Holly Trapp, whom Effler calls “The Tactician,” helps the other players on how to think and strategize during the matches. Trapp and Zhu have been badminton doubles partners since middle school.
“I think a lot more than others during the match,” Trapp said. I like to focus on where I place my shots rather than hitting it as hard as possible because I don’t have as much power as the other girls. I think more for the team and try to help out that way.”
Helene Collin, who Effler calls “The Horsepower,” pumps up the team and keeps the spirit and dedication strong. Collin started playing badminton her sophomore year and has been to state twice with two different partners.
“This year, since its getting more competitive, I want to hype the team up and be the competitive team I know we can be,” Collin said. “I try really hard to just amp everybody up.”
DeKalb badminton has emerged as a popular sport this year, as coach Zachary Effler had to have tryouts and cuts for the first time in four years as a coach with the team.
“There aren’t a lot of places to play badminton in the DeKalb area, so my whole goal was to just get people on courts,” Effler said. “It makes me really happy that that has happened. We have full gyms of people playing badminton.”
Effler is taking the reins as the head coach for the first time this year.
“Not much has changed,” he said. “The previous head coach new that he was retiring, so he was sort of grooming me to be his replacement. His last year, he took a few steps back and let me do a lot more than I had done previously.”