Starting Age: 7
Trains at: Global Badminton Academy (Pomona, CA)
When Kodi Lee is on the court competing, you can locate her from 100 feet away. Just listen for the loud, energetic voice, and you’ll find her. Only three months after she started training, she has already become a competitive force to reckon with at local junior badminton tournaments. Now, she travels from competition to competition represents the US for the Pan American Junior Championships being held in Guatemala this July.
How and when did you start to play badminton?
My parents used to drop my brother and me off at my grandma’s house and go to play badminton. I was curious about it and asked if I could join them. And now badminton has become our family activity.
How many days do you practice?
Three days a week.
What part of badminton do you like?
It’s fun when you get to compete. My favorite part is hanging out with friends after the training or tourney.
What is your favorite type of shot?
I like deception shots. It seems like a clear or smash shot, but then I drop. I love it whenever I make that shot in the game. I feel happy because I tricked them. It makes playing badminton more fun that way.
Which events do you like the most? Singles, doubles, mixed?
I like doubles the most because it’s fast and exciting.In mixed doubles, sometimes guys are too shy to talk to me about the strategy, and we don’t always do well, but then in girls’ doubles, we communicate like friends, so we always have great game plans before and during the game.
What practice do you like?
I like our practice game day when we get to compete with same level players and sometimes play against higher levels. Drills are ok, but they are tiring.
Is there a practice you don’t like?
I don’t like physical training like running. We do sprinting, side steps, double steps, but I know those types of training are necessary.
Who is your favorite badminton player? and why?
I have two favorite players: Tony Gunawan, because he is an Olympic gold medalist, three times world champion and really nice coach. My second favorite player is Jamie Hsu. I like Jamie because she’s pretty, plays really well and tries really hard. I am looking forward to becoming as good as they are one day.
What is your favorite food to eat before, while, and after playing badminton?
I like cereal for breakfast. In between the matches, my parents buy me cooked food and fruits like bananas and no raw food to avoid any stomachaches. They buy safe food, never food they aren’t familiar with. After the tournament, I like go out to eat with my teammates.
Do your school friends know that you play badminton?
All of them know. In our class there’s a “student of the week” project when we share information about ourselves. I told my class all about my passion for badminton and how much I love it.
When you tell your friends about badminton, how do you describe it?
I usually explain to them that badminton is like smaller-sized tennis. But instead of using a ball we use a shuttle that is called a birdie. Our racket is lighter and thinner than tennis rackets and our court is smaller than a tennis court. But the trick is you are not allowed to bounce it on the floor, so the game is very fast moving. Most of my friends don’t understand and have never tried badminton, so I tell them that it is fun, and they should try it out someday.
What are three words that describe you?
Fun. Sporty. Energetic.
How do you feel about representing the US to compete in Pan American Championships?
I’m very excited for the opportunity. I think it is an honor and an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
What is the best thing you have learned so far through playing badminton?
I learned that hard work will pay off. However, it’s not just about working hard; it’s also about sportsmanship, having fun and keeping a positive attitude towards the game.