Off the court, but connected online: York Girls Badminton Team spends quarantine communicating through social media
April 9, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic put an abrupt, indefinite pause on York Athletic Department’s spring sports seasons in early March. Many teams had just begun their seasons and were preparing for their first game. York’s badminton team was one of the interrupted sports. However, Coach Gena Fite took advantage of the extra time off to connect with her players.
“It is very, very important to stay connected,” Fite said. “It shows we care about each other not just on the badminton court. I sent each varsity girl a letter in the mail and the response was heartwarming. I even received a few letters in the mail myself!”
Fite also virtually connected the team by creating an Instagram account where she posted exercise videos and activities. She designed daily challenges to keep the team in shape and ready for a resumed season.
“By using a lot of social media, our coach started a new Instagram account @ydbadminton2020 to gather up the girls in order to give us more confidence and to inspire us to keep working,” senior Lorena Montenegro said. “All of our seniors are also in charge of the account to help spread inspiration to our teammates. Another thing our coach created was a York Badminton TikTok account where we can host our own little challenges and be creative with our team.”
The virtual connections also allowed the team to form closer relationships while not actually practicing in person every day. A “big sister, little sister” system adapted for upperclassmen to connect with underclassmen they may not have known prior to this year.
“We’ve definitely gotten closer as a whole team,” Montenegro said. “Especially because our ‘big sister, little sister’ activities have to be online. You can see a lot more juniors and seniors interacting with sophomores and freshmen than you would on a court due to the separation of teams.”
Online bonding presents new ways for the badminton team to get to know each other. Since their social media challenges are not restricted to badminton related activities, the team can learn more about each other’s interests and outside talents.
“I definitely feel like the badminton team consists of amazing girls and coaches who are all very well-rounded people,” senior Aleksina Jovic said. “For some of our challenges, we did baking and art, and this is a way we are connecting that doesn’t necessarily involve playing badminton. I think it’s cool how we are bonding on a different level.”
Even though the badminton team is using social media to compensate for a normal season, the girls still miss playing on the court with their friends. Due to the shelter-in-place order, the teammates cannot see each other every day like they normally would.
“Coronavirus has paused our season for a while which is sad,” sophomore Maria Chornij said. “I was very excited about the season this year because I missed the friends that I made last year during the badminton season. It’s always fun to see your friends every day and feel supported by them.”
Despite not being able to see each other, the badminton team is using social media to connect in new ways. The tournaments and matches may be canceled, but the team continues to find ways to bond and improve their skills.
“I think one thing that I definitely have learned during this time is that I am very lucky to have so many people in my life that make it difficult not to be around every day, like the badminton team,” Jovic said. “Staying connected through daily challenges and the Instagram account has made it a lot easier for us.”