Forging a Leisure Environment with Flying Birdies and Soaring Wiffle Balls At Racquet Sports Club

Racquet Sports Club takes a silly photo in the courtyard. Photo courtesy of Manahil Sabeeh. Photo taken by Areebah Labiba.
Racquet Sports Club takes a silly photo in the courtyard. Photo courtesy of Manahil Sabeeh. Photo taken by Areebah Labiba.
Areebah Labiba

Just like any other club, a group gathers in CO28 after school, answering a silly whip-around question. Suddenly, they all empty the room and bring out a diverse collection of paddles, nets, and balls. Hidden between the competitive and chill clubs at State High is the Racquet Sports Club. Founded by Rija Sabeeh two years ago, the club was revitalized by current President, Manahil Sabeeh, and Vice President, Sadie Williams. 

The club was created in an effort to bring a safe space for people of all skill levels to enjoy playing racquet sports together.  The purpose for this club was not to create another competitive sports team. From that point on, the club grew into a place for members to get together biweekly on Fridays and hang out.

“She [Rija Sabeeh] originally thought of this idea cause she wanted a club that she was able to play racquet sports cause she enjoyed them, but wasn’t a competitive team, per se. It’s honestly just a fun club where we just hang with friends while also play racquet sports. She developed the idea, got the equipment through a grant, and then formed the club basically,” Sabeeh said. 

Although the club died down just after its first meeting, Sabeeh and Williams were determined to renew the club and build upon the origins of the club.

A group playing pickle ball at a Racquet Sports Club meeting. Photo taken on Oct. 20.  (Manahil Sabeeh)

“Manahil and I kind of founded it together,” Williams said. “It was just more so we both wanted something to do and it seemed like a good opportunity to make a space that was comfortable for us and for other people.” 

As the name of the club may suggest, Racquet Sports Club enables students to play a variety of racquet sports like tennis, pingpong, pickleball, and badminton. For many, the club offers more than just racquet sports. 

“To be a bit on the nose, it’s a club to do racquet sports. But beyond that, it’s just a nice place to hangout after school,” Williams said. “I often end up doing my homework, and listening to music and just chatting with the people around me.”

A part of creating a hangout area after school is the social aspect of the club.

“You meet a bunch of people you wouldn’t expect to meet, cause there’s kids that are above your age and below your age, and kids that are interested in many different things,” Treasurer Jayden Knapp said. “[It’s] sociable, cause sometimes it takes you out of your comfort. I kind of like to just stick with my friend, but say for example that friend isn’t there, I would typically try and hang out with some people that I don’t really know. Overall, it’s just a really welcoming community.”

Another aspect that sets Racquet Sports Club apart from other clubs is the laid back approach it takes on sports and academics. 

“I think a lot of sports clubs and a lot of more academic clubs try to encourage people to actually learn the stuff, and do it as in the rules. Which, not to say that we don’t encourage you to learn racquet sports [rule], but we like to say ‘everyone at any skill level is welcome’ and don’t expect a high level competition,” Williams stated. “A lot of the time, we can barely get it across twice. Just come to enjoy yourself and not to compete.”

Knapp echoed Williams’ perception of other extracurricular activities compared to Racquet Sports club.

“Typically when I think of clubs, I think about really nerdy things like math club or writers club,” Knapp said. “Racquet sports is — this might be kind of mean — it’s kind of like a joke. You just kind of joke around and hang out the whole time. It’s all fun and all games. You get to go outside, you get to stay inside if the weather’s bad,  You just get to have a really good time.”

The lack of seriousness allows the members to be creative about how they approach the meetings. For example, they try to get outside and play badminton or pickleball in the courtyard when the weather is nice, but when conditions aren’t suitable for outdoor activities, they move inside. Although being inside limits their options, they are able to mold different racquet sports into a version that works from them.

A group playing 5 v. 5 ping pong at a club meeting. Photo taken on Oct. 20. (Manahil Sabeeh)

“My favorite part is that we aren’t strict about anything. So, you can really do whatever you want, and do what you enjoy. We have tons of people who just ask, ‘oh, can we do this?’,” Sabeeh said. “Last meeting, we just made a mega table and we did a five v. five of table tennis, and that was really fun. I just love how we’re really flexible and just do whatever the people want to do.” 

Like for most sports, competitiveness is still present, even if the club tries to create a fun and open environment without the stress of sports teams. 

“It’s not formally competitive, but we do still have some competitive sides,” Sabeeh added. “Some of us are competitive, some of us are not. I’d just say it’s fun and amusing.” 

Competitiveness doesn’t diminish the welcoming environment at each meeting. 

“We try to be as welcoming as possible — so pretty much anyone who wonders in is welcome to be there,” Williams added. “We try not to keep it hostile as well. We encourage competitive natures, but only to an extent.” 

All skill levels are welcome at Racquet Sports club, and the club is open to students all year-round.  “So if you’re scared of people, or if you are scared to be in a very smart environment, don’t be,” Knapp exclaimed. “People in racquet sports don’t know what they’re doing half the time. You don’t need any experience or anything at all — you just need to join.”

“I recommend anyone who wants to have fun join Racquet Sports Club, cause there are no requirements,” Sabeeh said. “All experience levels are welcome. I personally am not the greatest at racquet sports, but I still really have fun with it, because we have all different skill levels, and just everyone’s really welcoming and we’d love for you to come, even if it’s just one meeting. The more the merrier.”

For students who are interested in learning more about the club or attending meetings, they can contact the advisor, Philip Gipe at [email protected] or President Manahil Sabeeh at [email protected]. Students can walk into the meetings knowing that they can have fun playing racquet sports with others and not stress about competition. 

“I know it’s on Fridays afterschool, so there aren’t a lot of people who necessarily want to join. But, I really enjoy it. I think most of the people who come really enjoy it,” Williams said. “Just come to enjoy yourself and not to compete.” 

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