in this corn belt country ruled by pigskin football and basketball, a beacon of badminton ray is lighting up this central state of USA. I didnt know where to put this, west or east USA.
Badminton popularity increases
By: Melissa Anderson, Times Staff Writer
Updated 11/25/2008 12:34:13 PM EST
Recently, the Top Flight Badminton Club has had a surge in participants.
“We kind of think that the Olympic thing had something to do with it,” said Bob Ericson, president of the Top Flight Badminton Club, a group of badminton enthusiasts who play regularly and promote badminton in Nebraska.
Shortly after the Olympic Games, which feature a new sport competition of badminton, the club received several inquiries and soon more families started coming in by word of mouth.
For some time previous to the recent surge in activity, the club would have somewhere between 10 and 16 participants.
“If we had 18, we had a crowd,” Ericson said.
The new crowds have had record numbers in the 40s for participants. On Nov. 16, 43 people showed up.
“We’ve never had that many on Sunday night,” Ericson said.
The typical ages for teens and preteens are 11 to 14 year olds, who often have their parents join in the activities.
The average age group at the club is in the 20s or 30s, but participants range in age all the way up to 65.
Ericson did say that more high school students, especially girls, would even out the playing field.
“We don’t care if you’re a beginner or advanced,” Ericson said. “It doesn’t make any difference.”
Memberships at the Top Flight Badminton Club are $30 per year for individuals, $50 for a family, which includes mom, dad and any children, and $15 for a youth membership.
“I would really…like to have all these people that are playing now play in the [Cornhusker State] games in the summer,” Ericson said. The Cornhusker State games are a statewide amateur annual competition for athletes to compete in numerous activities. Badminton was introduced to the games in 1988.
Other than the physical benefits, Ericson said that playing badminton gives people the opportunity to socialize with others who have the same interests and a chance to meet new people at tournaments.
One event that Ericson encourages his Top Flight Club members to participate in is Enlighten Nebraska, where participants can compete for prizes in numerous activities. The Nebraska Sports Council in Lincoln sponsors this event.
Top Flight has been in existence since the early 1960s and was originally organized at Offutt Air Force Base, according to their Web site. Top Flight has conducted three USA Badminton national tournaments and one international tournament.
Top Flight hosted the Ray Scott Open for 28 years, in honor of Chief Warrant Officer Ray Scott, who was the original organizer.
Participants from numerous states compete in the tournament, according to the Top Flight Web site. States include Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas and Tennessee, and occasionally competitors from other states farther away like California and Massachusetts.
Top Flight also assists in the preparation of badminton at the Nebraska Senior Games held in Kearney in August, according to their Web site. Top Flight members also compete in the event as well.
A game of badminton can be played as singles, doubles or mixed doubles, which includes male and female partners playing against another couple. The Top Flight Badminton Club meets from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sundays in the north gym at Papillion-La Vista High School.
“The club’s there for anybody,” Ericson said.
©Suburban Newspapers 2008