Badminton club offers new home for enthusiasts

Kevin Yu of Seattle gets close to the net during a game of badminton at the Seattle Badminton Club
Kevin Yu of Seattle gets close to the net during a game of badminton at the Seattle Badminton Club's newest location in Kirkland.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Tucked back into an industrial park next to a Postal Express delivery hub, there is now a haven for badminton players.

The Seattle Badminton Club opened the doors to it’s newest facility on Dec. 3, welcoming any and all who enjoy the sport. The club has operated gym space in southern Bellevue for about five years, said one of the club founders Tony Lee. Avid players and the club quickly found the need for another space, especially farther north to serve the people there who love the game.

The new facility, located at 10858 117th Place N.E., had 10 courts and an office area for the staff.

“It’s a perfectly, ideal location,” said Lee, a Mercer Island businessman. The coach at the club, Wendy Carter, said it was purely good luck to have found a space with so much space.

Lee said one of the complaints about the Bellevue location was there simply wasn’t a lot of room except for the courts. The Kirkland space alleviates both the need for space and a closer venue for northern players.

Lee said most of the founders have decades of experience and have quickly found the older generation love showing and teaching the game to kids. Since the club opened at the beginning of December, 111 people have signed up. To celebrate the grand opening the club will be holding a grand opening Open House on Jan. 29 from noon to 5 p.m.

The club has already hosted one tournament, the first of many planned, but its current focus is simply on attracting new members and getting the word out about a game many people grew up playing in their backyard.

Carter said they offer lessons and classes for all age groups and knowledge levels, but also have ladders, to help players dust off skills and figure out where they are compared to others.

Of course one of the biggest benefits of the game is the exercise, but unlike many other athletic club venues Seattle Badminton is just as social as it is athletic.

“It’s fun and the exercise is great. It’s not just a physical sport, it’s a mind sport too,” said Lee. “We also emphasis the friendly atmosphere here. We make it a point to know everyone’s name. In a lot of other sports clubs if you don’t know the sport, it can be intimidating. The emphasis is on welcoming people. It’s not just a sports place, but a social environment.”

Badminton, which has seen an uptick in popularity lately in the U.S., has long been the game of choice, second only to soccer in some places. Introducing the sport to a younger audience is a key goal for the organization.

“I love to see that glow that people get when they discover the sport,” said Carter. For the kids who are just learning, they may be shy when they start, but quickly find confidence in their game and themselves.

“It’s a big family sport,” said Lee. “Lots of parents teach their kids and pass it on to their kids and you can see the passion they have for it.”

Someday the group hopes to possibly have leagues for teams and players, but for the moment the focus is on building the club and teaching the sport.

“We’ve found some people like tournaments, and others just want to come and play,” said Carter. “We want to have something for everyone.”

While the building is only staffed for a few hours a day, members have access to the facility via a key card from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Drop ins are welcome, which has been a popular option for people interested in checking out the club and what it’s about. Drop ins are $5 for seniors or students and adults pay $7.

“It’s cheaper than going to a movie,” said Lee. Equipment is available to rent at the site.

To learn more about the club, visit their Web site or call (425) 889-5958.

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