Our Sports Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Blaszynski, had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Girls Badminton State Champion, Bhaavya Manikonda! Read all about how Bhaavya started playing badminton, all the hard work she put into becoming a state champion, and how her father inspired her to keep playing!
How many years have you played for your team?
I played varsity badminton all throughout high school (freshman to senior year). I was also first in the lineup every year. I am currently ranked number 2 nationally in singles and 3 in doubles. I won the IHSA badminton state for singles in 2019 and 2021 as well.
Why did you start playing badminton?
My dad always wanted to put me in a sport for three reasons: learning discipline, learn the importance of fitness and athletics and having fun. There was a badminton club near the house we moved into in 2012 so he signed me up and I have played and grown ever since.
What is your favorite badminton memory?
My favorite memory while playing would be when I was warming up to play singles finals at the Pan American Junior Tournament in Moncton, Canada. The previous year I played in the same tournament in Brazil and I lost the first round so it was satisfying to see hard work and perseverance be worth it. The entire year before this day I made sure to stay motivated with the three reasons my dad had in mind and having that purpose helped me stay grounded towards my goal and it was cool to see everything pay off.
What is a life lesson you learned from playing badminton?
I learned that experience comes from more than just winning. If you want to be successful, failure is bound to be a stepping stone. Badminton is a fun recreation sport but it can also be a beautiful competitive sport and sticking with it and embracing the challenges it brings is key.
How did badminton impact your student-athlete life?
Badminton definitely had an impact on my academic life when I first started high school because I had not yet learned how to balance both. I was able to fix this problem by setting up schedules and to do lists for even little time periods of my day because even though I might not stick to them completely, I can refocus even after getting off track. I also would be in the moment when in school and doing homework and then also would have my mind completely up present when playing badminton so I am not thinking about other aspects of my life. Badminton did create moments of stress for me because of how it constructed my time for everything else but I now have the lifelong skill of time management and self composure.
What are 3 words you can think of that describe badminton?
I would describe badminton as uplifting, dynamic, and gritty.
Do you continue to play badminton once your season is over?
I do still play now and am currently attending a camp to train for nationals that are happening at the end of June (June 2021). After this tournament, I will be going to college in the fall so I will stop training as regularity and will play for fun and fitness and not as competitively.
How has participating in badminton camp helped you?
Badminton camp not only improved my physical and mental endurance but also gave me a place to be around other people who are willing to put in work and appreciate badminton as a sport. The friends I have made are forever and they have taught me so much and given me some of my favorite memories.