Athlete Feature: Kathy Liu


Chloe Wong, Staff Writer

Badminton is bitterly underrated, according to AHS’ junior Kailin (Kathy) Liu, and more people should understand how much skill it takes to play. Badminton is one of the fastest racket sports in the world, an activity that not only requires focus and physical ability, but an incredible amount of emotional strength as well.

Ever since a friend introduced her to the sport in elementary school, Kathy has had an affinity for badminton—proving her skill and dedication by serving as this year’s Co-Captain of the Girls Varsity Badminton team.

Having played badminton since grade school (with a background in ballet), Kathy joined AHS’ Girls Badminton team her first year, securing a spot on the Varsity team despite only being a freshman. It’s been a great experience, and she’s never struggled with being both an athlete and a student.

Varsity Badminton may be a sports team, but it’s important to remember its players are students first and foremost, many of whom have different course loads across all grade levels.

Her coaches are “truly understanding, and genuinely care for our health. While they do push us to do our best on the court and want us to prioritize badminton, if we have conflicts they do understand,” Kathy said.

Badminton players can also go to each other for homework help if they need it—another bonus of being on the tightly-knit athletic team.

“We have lots of bonding activities throughout the year, not just during the season, which really contributes to our team bond,” Kathy said. “Our coaches not just push us physically but also support us emotionally on both our badminton and academic journeys.”

Although its plans were briefly derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the AHS Girls Varsity Badminton team was recently able to get back onto the court thanks to newly implemented California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and other state guidelines.

The Badminton team was “definitely hit hard by the pandemic,” said Kathy.

According to Kathy, they had hopes of taking home the team CIF title after years of getting 2nd place.

When the 2020-2021 school year began, players kept in shape by working out online three times a week. But it took some time to adjust to training after so many months spent indoors.

“Our first day back was filled with laughter and mistakes,” Kathy said. “Because many of us hadn’t trained at all since last year when closures first began, the birdie and racket were quite foreign. I’m sure a lot of us would’ve gotten our Varsity status revoked if we had done tryouts that day!”

Thanks to these workouts—which provided a good physical foundation, even if students were a little out of practice—and the effort from coaches and athletes alike, the bonds between players remain as strong as ever. Health always comes first, though: players are masked during practice and maintain social distancing, while also getting tested once a week for the novel coronavirus.

AHS has one of the most formidable badminton teams in Southern California, Kathy said, and this season around, her team still plays games with the same intensity they brought before the pandemic. In Kathy’s opinion, the number one quality any student-athlete can have is tenacity.

Between sports, academics, and extracurriculars, “tenacity is what helps us get through the busy schedules of the sports season. As an athlete, an individual has to be tenacious both on their own and as a team,” she said. “High school sports incorporate both. As a player, an athlete has to work on their physical and emotional strength. As a team, student-athletes must be able to face setbacks together and support each other along the way.”

Kathy is looking forward to the rest of the season, and hopes that everyone stays safe and healthy throughout it. Besides anticipating the continuation of Arcadia’s multiple-year record as League Champions and CIF Runner Up, she also hopes that the team will secure a CIF Championship.

Looking back, when Kathy joined the badminton team, she had just finished recovering from an injury, and wasn’t very confident in her ability to play. Now, though, she considers being on the team one of the “highlights” of her high school career. And she obviously loves the sport itself: because of the sharp instincts players must possess to excel, because of how fast the shuttle travels while in play, because of all the split-second decisions that affect the rest of the game. It can be played individually or with a team, giving the players a chance to experience both independence and close camaraderie.

“AHS Badminton has truly been an incredible experience,” Kathy said, “one filled with joyful memories, great achievements, and wonderful people.”

And Kathy’s found more than a sport within the AHS Badminton team: she’s also discovered a family.


Photo courtesy of Kathy Liu