The Debut of Junior Varisity Badminton

Grace Fong, Web managing editor

At the start of each school year, around fifty boys crowd the west gym bustling with excitement and nerves, wondering who will and who won’t be left standing at the end of the week. This sounds like a Survivor episode, but in reality, it’s the boys badminton team tryouts. Badminton has spiked in popularity in Nassau County in the past five years, becoming one of the most competitive sports at Great Neck South with around 40-60 boys trying out each year. However, due to the limited amount of space in the West Gym, varsity badminton coach Mrs. Allison Gottfried cuts more than two thirds of the students who try out each year. 

This year, instead of cutting the boys who do not make varsity team, Mrs. Gottfried and the Nassau County Athletic Directors Committee authorized a junior varsity boys badminton team. Two years ago, the committee noticed that around 4-5 schools had an overwhelming number of students try out for the boys badminton team. With these numbers in mind, they created a JV/Intramural pilot program. 

The decision to create a junior varsity team was originally approved in 2019; however, due to the pandemic, it was not created. But this year, after 21 boys did not make it onto the varsity team, Mrs. Gottfried once again advocated for a junior varsity team so that all the boys who tried out could enjoy this sport. Although it is currently not an official junior varsity program, there are hopes that it will become an official program in the upcoming years. 

Because the addition of this program was decided at the last minute, the process of choosing a coach and creating a team had to happen fairly quickly. After the decision to create a JV program was approved, the committee of athletic directors opened coaching applications and received a variety of candidates. They knew they needed to choose someone who was familiar with the sport, in the building during school hours, and flexible with coaching hours. After careful evaluation of each applicant, they decided to hire Mr. Peter Gottfried. 

Mr. Gottfried is currently the dean at South High, and although he has never coached badminton before, he understands how competitive and intense the sport is. “I respect and love the sport, and I know this sport isn’t something you just play in your backyard.” Mr. Gottfried also has coaching experience from when he previously coached the middle school football team and wrestling. Furthermore, he also understands the rules of badminton because several years ago, he helped the girls badminton team by playing against the singles players.

When Mr. Gottfried was notified that he was going to be coaching the junior varsity team, he reached out to the team members through Family ID to let them know the schedules and dates of practices. He decided that practices were going to be held everyday, but due to the limited gym space and times, he had to work around other sports like cheerleading and boys varsity badminton. The junior varsity team now practices in the West Gym from 6 am to 7:30 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and from 6-8 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

In order to determine the team’s lineup, Mr. Gottfried utilized the time during the first four practices to “get a feel” of each badminton player’s level. He had every member play doubles during that time to maximize court space and then pulled out who he thought would be best fit to play the singles positions. Thereafter, he continued to match up doubles players with their most compatible partner so they could get ready to compete with other schools. 

The team had four scheduled matches for this season. Their first match was September 27 away against Jericho, the second game was October 1st home against Planview, the third game was October 4th away against Planview, and their final game was October 15th home against Jericho. There were originally supposed to be six matches, but due to the spontaneity of creating a junior varsity team, it was hard to coordinate all the matches when Great Neck South was not fully in the county’s system yet. Mr. Gottfried hopes that following years will yield more matches for the junior varsity team 

Creating a junior varsity for boys has been something that was considered for very long and has finally been put into action. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gottfried are very excited about the future of the programand hope that it will help the popularity of badminton continue to grow throughout our school and the entire county.