The High Tech High School badminton team hosted a day of competition with a team from England and may have made lifetime friends in the process.
The Hummersknott/Oxford Badminton club of Darlington, United Kingdom, visited on July 24 while on an international tour with stops in Iceland, Canada, Washington, DC, and throughout the United States. The tournament was held at the Hudson County Schools of Technology Field House and gym.
Badminton is a game played on a court with racquets and a shuttlecock.
The day had started with a little pomp and circumstance, with an early-morning welcome from Dr. Joseph Giammarella, High Tech school principal. Presentations were made to him and Dr. Joseph Sirangelo, assistant superintendent of schools, commemorating the event by Hummersknott coach Philip Boyle. Presentations included a crystal statue and proclamation from the Mayor of Darlington, UK, about the schools’ “mutual friendship and appreciation.”
But then it was on to the competition.
The High Tech Badminton Club trained for a year in anticipation of the tournament, and they were ready for a full slate of matches. They played 54 doubles games and 18 singles games in the morning, and 25 doubles matches in the afternoon.
Thirty-seven American players from High Tech squared off against the 31 British visitors.
There was also a team Quiz Bowl contest during the tournament run by High Tech guidance counselor Vincenza Morella for fun, and it was won by High Tech, with second and third place going to two of the British teams.
After the tournament, awards were given out to all winners.
“But all students were winners, because of the cultural exchange,” said Toshi Piazza, Badminton Club president.
Earlier in the day the competitors had eaten side by side, at a luncheon in the cafeteria prepared by school staff, according to Dorothy Gilmartin, teacher and badminton coach at High Tech.
“It had an American picnic theme, including hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, watermelon and more,” she said.
“The badminton was great, but the friendship and cultural exchange were even more valued.” – Toshi Piazza
“On Saturday, the Brits hosted a farewell dinner at the VIP Restaurant in Jersey City, attended by both teams,” Gilmartin said. “The students socialized and exchanged emails and Facebook page information and promised to keep in touch. The kids said their farewells with the hope of meeting again.”
“The badminton was great, but the friendship and cultural exchange were even more valued,” Piazza said.
Gilmartin said that badminton is making its strides at her school, but that it is a “tough sport to sell in Hudson County. And we have the issue of only being able to play sports not played by other schools in Hudson County at High Tech.”
Gilmartin said for that reason the badminton and judo sports have thrived at her high school. She said that because they have a strong program at High Tech, she has a 70-plus person roster of team members simply by word of mouth.
The school placed a bid at the USA Badminton meeting last month to run the Northeast Junior Regional Badminton Tournament at High Tech in October, according to Gilmartin. If they win the bid, it would mean 100 to 200 of the top badminton players from Boston, New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas would play at the North Bergen school. She said High Tech was still awaiting word on the decision. USA Badminton works with the Olympic committee to pick teams.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.