Every year in early fall Desmond Dunham, one of Wilson’s physical education teachers, takes pride in hosting a badminton tournament to rap up the badminton unit in his P.E. II classes. This year’s competition recently concluded after several weeks of preparation. Dunham prepares his classes by teaching them various strokes, and by giving them time in class to practice rallying with a partner, including playing doubles. “There are over 30 different strokes you can learn in a game of badminton, so we try and teach [students] the most fundamental and the most foundational so they can build up to playing a competitive game,” Dunham said of the badminton unit.
Dunham explained that he is the only P.E. teacher that currently teaches a badminton unit, but the concept is ‘taking wind’ with other teachers, so he expects them to take up the sport soon. He brought the program and the tournament to Wilson five years ago when he first started teaching here, but explains that it has gotten more serious, and he now awards trophies to the first place team, and bronze and silver medals to the second and third place duos.
Leo Saunders, a sophomore in Dunham’s third period class, was one of the winners, and thus a recipient of a first place trophy. Saunders had previously played badminton at home and even has his own net and rackets, but explained that playing in class definitely improved his skills. “I played against some hard people,” he said of the tournament.
Dunham explained that the badminton unit is one of the most popular amongst his students, though not a favorite of all, “I’ve seen some bright smiles and some tears with this tournament. We have some [students] that have picked up badminton equipment on their own and…that are asking me for extra tips…. We have a lot of interest in even starting a badminton [club].” Another one of his third period students, sophomore Sophie Mclnerney, described her own experience, “I think now that I kind of get the basics of badminton I will be able to play later in life, but I don’t think that I will go out of my way to do [so.]”
The passionate P.E. teacher and profound badminton player however pointed out that this is not the case for all of his students. “It’s accomplishing exactly what we set out to do, teaching our kids as many different ways to be active later on in life, and I’m pretty sure that we’re gonna have some students from here to play badminton in a much later age of life, and that makes me feel good that we’re planting really good seeds.”
PHOTO BY CHLOE LEO