Desert Edge’s badminton program

Desert Edge’s badminton program, which finished as the No. 20 team in Division II, used the game as a therapy session for players to bond and overcome other challenges they face in life.

The fall season has come to a close for Desert Edge High School badminton. The team finished the season with a record of 7-7, ranked No. 20. However, it wasn’t practice that got them their wins throughout the season. The Scorpions got through their season together, through therapy.

Desert Edge is a relatively young team, with this year’s season being just their fourth year as an official program. Nonetheless, head coach Stephen Kraynick was still setting goals for the team and anticipating a strong season for the Scorpions. 

“We’re really good, actually. I have had very high expectations this year,” Kraynick said. “Our goal was to try to make the top 20 in the state, because we are only year four. We are still a fairly young team. Some of these kids have been with me for two or three years now, so I have a nice core group of people. I really think we can make our goal overall this year.”

And they did. The Scorpions were cutting it close, but they were able to achieve their goal. In their singles and doubles matches, the Desert Edge badminton team fought their way through the season and made it to the top 20. However, it was not just their skills as athletes that helped the Scorpions reach their goal. 

In singles, the athletic skills of a player plays a strong role in winning a match.

“In singles, you have much more court available to you and so you have to come up with a different game plan. It’s more athletic and it’s more of a grinding type, but those who have a stronger mental view usually will do much better,” Kraynick said.

In doubles, finding the right partner plays an even bigger role.

“Doubles is completely different. You have a partner, less court, less space, but not always. So, with that, you have to plan your team’s strengths and weaknesses and have them compliment each other, whereas in singles it’s just you. You try to find a nice balance so it is almost like you have a complete player out there,” he added.

However, if you were to ask the Scorpions what the most important skill to have during a match is, they would say you would need to have the mental skill. 

Most of the girls on the Desert Edge badminton have been playing singles and doubles for their high school for two or three years. Having both the athletic skills and the mental skills to switch their mindset and gameplay back and forth for every match. 

However, that is not the part of the game that sticks out in their minds. The Scorpions say that the mental aspect of it all is what they love most about the sport of badminton.

“When I’m feeling relaxed that’s when I enjoy it the most. I know I can put in my best effort. Just knowing that when the birdie comes, it’s my time to shine and I’m ready to hit it,” senior Melissa Leor said.

“It’s therapeutic, honestly. Our coach literally calls practice therapy. It’s a great stress reliever,” senior Anyanka Carlson said. 

“I like how it can release stress, and I believe that is my biggest strength too,” junior Kaylyn Huynh added.

Being able to keep it fun, stay connected with your doubles partner, use each practice and game therapeutically, and stay relaxed while also letting out some steam are the skills. These are the aspects of the game that the team loves the most and believes matter the most.

“We don’t call our practices ‘practices.’ We call them ‘therapy sessions,’” Kraynick said.