I Faced the Beast

OMG, have I got a story for you.

Okay, let me start at the beginning. I’ve said before that the badminton playing teachers at my school have been incredibly mean to me with one exception. Her name is Mrs. Bai and we were partners in the women’s tournament. We actually never play together but shes always been super nice to me and she told me about a competition at our college for teachers. So we signed up together.

It’s next week, but we need to practice a little so I said I’d go meet her at the school gym Wednesday night. Now, this school gym is my least favorite place to play badminton in the world. It’s free, open to only the teachers and has nice courts, why do I hate it?

Because of all my memories. The gym haunts me. It’s where I started training for the first few months before my coach opened his own place. Class with my coach was fine, but it was after, when he made me play with the other teachers, everything went downhill. The other teachers were just mean to me, never encouraged or helped me and they acted like playing with me was an unbearable burden.  They never made me feel welcome and robbed any little bit of self esteem or confidence I desperately needed at that early stage.  (I recently wrote about my arch-nemesis and he is the queen mean girl of the group always pushing me out.)

So today when I went to the gym, I played mixed doubles against Mrs. Bai with some other teachers I didn’t know and it was fun and what-not. A lot of the people hadn’t seen me in almost a year and several were very friendly to me.

But the mean girl clique was off playing in their incestuous group and I didn’t say anything to them. I played with other people and ignored them. I noticed Mrs. Bai was playing with them after awhile but I was playing with other people and didn’t want to go over there.

But after my game I looked for Mrs. Bai because we needed to practice together. I didn’t see her, so I walked over to the mean girl group to inquire her whereabouts. She had gone out to get some snack, they told me, so I sat down to wait.

“Want to play?” one of the guys asked me and I picked up my racket to go out and play with them, when they changed their minds. They wanted to play men’s doubles. Fine. Fuck them.

I sat back down again next to another female teacher waiting for Mrs. Bai.

The school courts are nice, and free for teachers to play (and no students allowed during the teacher time) yet it is still my least favorite place to play.

When the guys finished the female teacher said to me, “let’s play mixed doubles,” and I walked out onto the court. She was trying to get 2 guys to play with us and again NO ONE WANTED TO. This was just like what happened before when no one wanted to play with me. But I’m not the unconfident shy girl I was back then and I was ready to flip my lid at these assholes when finally two guys came out.

Who should come to my side to play with me? My arch-nemisis. The toady little teacher. Ugh.

I inwardly rolled my eyes and just said to myself “get it over with.”

It was actually my second session of badminton, I trained in the morning, and I had already played for more than 2 hours that evening and was starving. I figured I’d suffer through a game and call it quits immediately after.

But me and the toad won. We won! And we won surprisingly easily. Even more annoying we were really good partners and despite never playing before we worked together really well.

My opponents, which I had put kind of on a pedestal were not nearly as good as I remembered. Their shots seemed so clear and obvious to me that I would get in position in advance and be more than ready to return it. And the toad was used to women playing at a higher level so he had no problem with me going back to cover half the court in defense.

That game was so good I decided to play another. Me and the toad versus a woman and man, who, ironically, were my opponents during my first competition. They trounced Azhi and I in the competition winning by more than 10 points. The competition was only 6 months ago, and they play together every week whereas my partner was my arch-nemesis and we’ve never played together.  So I figured they would win easily.

Wrong again!! We won quickly and I even got to smash the birdie into the girl for good measure! (She was standing in the wrong spot, so it’s really her fault.) Actually I also hit the bird wrong at one point and managed to smash my partner which gave me a petty sense of glee.

During the second game I realized why I was finding it so easy. These players were playing very standard. They knew good technique and footwork and did everything right. (When people play without training I find their erratic behavior and standards too confusing to play confidently against.)

But despite their standardization, they aren’t experts and I’ve been training with experts. I usually play with all guys who are at a slightly higher (or very higher) level than me. So playing mixed doubles against people at my level felt almost slow. Like, I had plenty of time to get where I needed to go and I could think about which shot to play against them for maximum impact.

And during the second game my female opponent said she was too nervous playing against me! She said I was giving her too much pressure because I returned her shots easily and fast. What the what?! SHE scared of ME?!

I decided to leave after my second game. I seriously was starving and had played for more than 2 hours after training for an hour in the morning so I was just fried. I wish I had a mic at the time so I could drop it.

These people were my biggest badminton fear and one year after they began bullying me I went back and conquered. I doubt they are gonna include me in their reindeer games, because I’m still the weirdo, but at least now I know where I stand, ability-wise, and I know I’ll keep training and improving and they’ll keep playing by themselves so they won’t get much better. Suck it LOSERS!

Every nerd’s dream has come true for me on the badminton court.

1 Comment

  1. Carol Anne Ances

    Yay Becky!!!


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