Badminton’s Season and Senior Farewell of 2022


Photo credit: Joshua Jovanelly

Jenielle Sephia Bongo, OwlFeed Sports Editor

Smash! The crisp sound of the shuttles making an impact with the rackets echoes throughout the gym. In each court, the players are working hard and giving it their all, hoping to make their matches last longer as it is their final game of the year. 

The last shot; the last set; the last game; and the last cheers, all officially marked the end of the 2022 badminton season.

Spectators sitting on the sidelines watched the team, consumed by their passion for the sport, exert a supportive, energetic, and respectful attitude all throughout the entire game while they tried their best to win against a difficult opponent. In the end however, the Lady Owls were unable to come out victorious, losing 0-9 against Millenium. Although it was a tough loss, we ended the night with food and laughter, just like in true badminton team fashion.

The team is extremely grateful for the other athletes, coaches, staff, parents, guardians, and anyone else who came in and watched our games throughout this season. The support of the Agua Fria family truly reached every single one of us and it became our beacon of light, helping us strive to become better players and better students who are more involved in our school’s activities and culture.

Looking back, this season specifically, the team experienced quite a bit of challenges. Coach Martin stated, “We definitely struggled early this season to recruit new players. Everyone was so busy this year and it can be hard to add another activity.” With everyone having either conflicting schedules, having no time for after school activities, or having sports clearance issues, it was hard to get others to join. The team did eventually manage to recruit new people, who are currently still gaining the experience that will surely shape them into better players for the next season. Coach Martin mentions, “We will definitely be recruiting hard and trying to grow the team. We have a strong core of players and I look forward to another great season.” So if you are also interested in playing badminton, we welcome you to join us next fall!

On the other hand, there was definitely a great improvement in the team’s performance as the season progressed. As our team slowly grew and as time went on, we saw ourselves winning more games and becoming closer with one another. Us experienced players made sure to not only help our new members with their gameplay, but also in assimilating them into our supportive, comfortable, and fun environment. We experienced every loss and victory; every exhausting and relaxed practices as a team, which ultimately contributed to our growing chemistry. “This team is like my home base; It gave me a safe and comfortable environment where I can be myself and have fun with my friends,” said Alissah Smith. The upperclassmen wanted to ensure that the amazing team atmosphere will continue on, even after we graduate, with the help of the newer players to the future groups. Coach Martin also stated, “I have so much fun every practice and game. They do such a great job creating a supportive team environment.”

That being said, the connections we made in badminton made it much harder to say goodbye to another Owl leaving the nest. This year, we only had one special senior to celebrate: Alissah Smith.

Alissah joined our team during her junior year with promising talent and an optimistic attitude. In singles, she went from junior varsity one to varsity three in just one year. She also became our number one varsity doubles team alongside her partner, Sofia Soto. Within these past couple of seasons, she had not only established her position in the team, but also in our school due to her numerous involvements here at Agua Fria. “I am a little sad reminiscing about my amazing past experiences in this team, but also happy because it is the end of a great era,” Alissah said. “I have learned so much being in badminton. They taught me the importance of perseverance, being able to know your strengths and your weaknesses, as well as how crucial it is to have a group of people to support you in and out of the court.”

The team will certainly not be the same without Alissah. It is hard for many of us to bid our graduating seniors farewell because of the experiences we shared throughout the years. “Saying goodbye is always tough. I have been there for several graduations the last five seasons and it never really gets easier. You grow so close as a team and it really hits home when you start the first practices of the next season. However, it is also really fun to reflect on an athlete’s accomplishments and to realize how much they have grown. I get really excited thinking about the bright future Alissah has,” Coach Martin said. 

Coming from a close teammate, “I’m a bit sad to see her leave. It definitely doesn’t feel like it’ll be the same next season. We have gotten so close over the years and I’ll really miss our constant banters. I loved every practice, conversation, and the laughs that Jenielle, Alissah, and I shared. They’re irreplaceable. Still, I’m proud of her and can’t wait to see what she makes of herself in the future,” Sofia Soto added. 

The team had shared many memorable moments with one another, all of which have helped us learn many things within our sport and our lives in general. The inside jokes, the constant laughter, all the wins and losses, as well as the amazing food we ate, all helped create the special bond our team has. It is always bittersweet seeing another member of our team leave, but as always, we wish them the best of luck.

As an era has come to an end and another chapter is about to close, Alissah’s word of advice is this: “Do what many don’t because that’s what sets you apart.”

To Alissah and to every other senior athlete this year, always remember: Once an Owl, always an Owl!