Illini Badminton Intercollegiate Sports Club thrives post pandemic

The Illini Badminton Intercollegiate Sports Club was founded at the university over a decade ago. While IBIS is the university’s competitive badminton club, the club is still viewed as a recreational sport by its members.

They have members from different backgrounds and nationalities including USA, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, China, Korea, Germany, Sweden, England, India and others – the club is open to both university students and locals in the CU area.

Allen Shen, a sophomore in engineering, joined the club during its freshman year and serves on the committee with the title of Treasurer.

“I manage all of the club’s finances for the tournaments,” Shen said. “All commissions for training and all money we make from the tournaments we host are under my supervision.”

Shen said the club makes most of its money from hosting tournaments. Although they were unable to host last year due to COVID-19, they will be a host at some point this semester.

“We usually hold one or two tournaments called UIUC Open,” Shen said. “We usually host it at the ARC and sometimes in Chicago.”

Shen said anyone can register and usually not too many people come from other universities because badminton is not a big sport. However, they still have some locals, kids from area high schools and sometimes people from Chicago who come down to play.

“We have our trial sessions next Monday, August 30thth, 6-8 p.m., Gym 3 at the ARC,” said Shen. “This year is going to be exciting because most of the people are back on campus.”

Corey Shen, a senior at LAS who is the vice president, said the practices are very flexible after auditions and the admission of new members to the club.

“We practice three times a week, two hours each, at least that’s how it is this semester,” Corey said.

He said practice times for this semester are Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays from 6pm to 8pm. Anyone who is a member of the club can come whenever they want and play as long as they want during these times.

“During this time, its members are only in the courts that we have reserved — which includes university students and some locals,” Corey said.

“Apart from practice and tournaments, we go to other states and play tournaments, too,” Corey said.

Shen said they’ve been to Purdue, Wisconsin and other locations over the course of his time at the club.

Corey, who was at the Quad Day booth for the club, said he was also very excited for this year’s tryouts.

“Because we’re officially a competitive club, we don’t accept everyone,” Corey said. “But this year at Quad Day we managed to fill out about 10 pages of names – that’s quite a lot. I don’t expect everyone who subscribed to the mailing list to show up, but we still had quite a large crowd this time around.”

Senior in Business Rohan Ramani explained how the university is giving priority to the club and its members when booking spots for the week.

“It’s really really helpful because it helps us create a planned training schedule and also ensures that we don’t end up booking spots for a specific day,” Ramani said.

Ramani, who joined the club in its first year, recently became the club’s president and will remain so until next May.

Ramani said his non-club friends had constantly complained to him about the unavailability of seats throughout the summer. Although badminton is not a particularly popular sport in the United States, places at the university fill up quickly.

“One thing I notice is that since the university doesn’t have an official badminton team, we don’t get a lot of money,” Ramani said.

Badminton as a club sport leaves little room for extensive competitions. As a result, they do every tournament that the club participates in or hosts independently and not as a direct representative of the university.

IBIS also competed in the Yonex Eastern Conference Midwest Division – a team championship consisting of about eight to nine games for each team. The championship took place in October 2019 and IBIS took first place and secured a big trophy.

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