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Indoor badmintiion

  • East Park

    602 Woodland St., Nashville, TN (map)

    36.172606 -86.762708

  • Red sliverado pick up or[masked]

  • Nashville, TN" style="padding-top: 8px; position: static;">

    East Park

    602 Woodland St., Nashville, TN (edit map)

    In the gym. I am the old hippie.

    Jean Kachappilly has been in Nashville only about 6Evi Bruster, John MellencampÕs former personal assistant,David Shaw, a former top American player who spent

    Indoor badminton. All levels of players welcome. This is not the badminton you played in the back yard. Beginners welcome. Come out and learn , work your way up. Great winter fun. Most of us are in our 50's but don't let that fool you.

    What's possibly the most multicultural sporting activity in Nashville?

    Maybe not what you think.

    How about competitive badminton? It's a sport claimed to be among the top in worldwide participation, but something most Americans think of only as a backyard game played at picnics.

    Most, but not all.

    In Nashville each week, participants from 17 countries gather in one place to play it.

    There's a Saigon badminton champion, now in his 80s, who was in prison camp for 10 years after the fall of South Vietnam. An almost-U.S. Olympian who grew up in Ghana and perfected the sport playing on Manhattan Beach. And John Mellencamp’s former personal assistant, who, after moving to Nashville, was looking for the kind of badminton club she grew up with in Germany. Those are the most hardcore.

    There's also the casual players and recent recruits, including one well-known local coffee entrepreneur Bob Bernstein, who, alongside their diverse set of teammates, found the sport later in life and fell in love with the exercise and fun of chasing the shuttle.

    Their passion for the sport led them to the Nashville Badminton Association, a non-profit dedicated to promoting the sport of badminton. The group meets in local rec center gyms to play against other worldly lovers of a flick serve and a hairpin drop hit. The want to teach American-born athletes — who have so many sports from which to choose and who usually grow up playing what they watch on TV — to slam the shuttle and celebrate the ace.

    The goal?

    "World domination," jokes David Shaw, president of the badminton group and also that player whose career stopped just shy of the Olympics in 1996 when he was the No. 3-ranked American and No. 110 in the world.

    Shaw spent years training in Denmark (where, he says, every town has a badminton hall), England and at the Olympic training center here in the United States. After he moved to Nashville and transitioned from highly competitive to casual, he hooked up with a group at Vanderbilt. But it broke up as people graduated and moved on. Shaw wasn't ready to do the same.

    So, he helped found his own club.

    To have such a diverse membership seems natural to Shaw. After all, more than 1.1 billion people watched badminton's Olympic debut in 1996, making it the most-watched sport at those Games. This year, Badminton led China's ratings, with the men’s singles final featuring Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei and China's Chen Longdominating the most-watched list.

    In India, its seems some cities have a badminton court every mile. That's how Shathyan Ramakrishnan grew up, gripping a racket by age 10, and crossing all kinds of playing

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    Jean Kachappilly has been in Nashville only about 6 months but plugged into the badminton community here very quickly because of his love for the sport. One of most multi-cultural sports in Nashville may surprise you Thursday Sept. 22, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)

    surfaces, cement, wood, synthetic. And now the gym floor at Sevier Park Community Center where the Nashville Badminton Association meets every Thursday night.

    "But," fellow player Li Ping — who is from Guangzhou, China — says, "there is an opportunity to know more beyond the badminton."

    That may be at a recent baby shower for the Malaysian couple who plays Thursday nights and just had a child. Or a quick post-game meal. These badminton players have been known to go out to dinner — 10 sweaty athletes from 10 different countries eating curry together at Sitar Indian restaurant.

    "People are so different, but in this we are all similar," Ramakrishnan said.

    That camaraderie captured Evi Bruster.

    Bruster grew up in a small German village of 2,000 residents.

    Her parents, couldn’t invest a lot of money or

    time in driving her to a larger town for after-school activities like ballet, tennis or sophisticated music lessons. Instead, Bruster had a choice between soccer, swimming or badminton. Her sociology teacher taught badminton. So at 14, she made the pragmatic decision to take up a racket.

    After learning the basics, the adult club asked her to join a year later.

    "That was a big privilege," she said. Not only was the level of play a lot higher, but it brought a tight-knit social group of friends. Rarely did the evening end without carrying on down the street at the only local pub in town. Her curfew at the time was midnight — the laws in Germany a bit more lax.

    Buy Photo

    Evi Bruster, John MellencampÕs former personal assistant, who after moving to Nashville was looking for the kind of badminton club she grew up with in Germany. She wants her two children Finn and Leni to grow up playing the game that she has always loved. Thursday Sept. 22, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)

    She loved it, but at 16 she started working at her uncle's nightclub 35 miles away. That shifted her focus.

    Fast-forward 15 years, and in early spring 2009, she moved with her family to Nashville. In time that passed, she was active but never really worked out. She had two little girls, and "I had gotten a bit too used to the American lifestyle and fast-food culture."

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    David Shaw, a former top American player who spent years training in Denmark in order to represent the U.S. in the major international badminton competitions. One of most multi-cultural sports in Nashville may surprise you Thursday Sept. 22, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)

    The only activity she could imagine to have fun with and move around was badminton.

    She found the Vanderbilt Badminton Club, and with her husband's extra large T-shirt and moral support, she took her 20-year-old, $25-racket to the court. She caught fire again.

    On the court, no matter when they moved here or where they came from, the club's players all have a similar focus.

    Badminton.

    And winning.

    And world domination with a shuttle shot.

    Reach Jessica Bliss at[masked] and on Twitter@jlbliss.

    http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation.aspx ;

    Bellevue Community Center (656 Colice Jeanne Road, Bellevue) 
    10 a.m.-12 p.m., Wednesday 
    More info: Anne Paine, [masked]

    East Park Regional Community Center (600 Woodland Street, Nashville) 
    6:30-8:15 p.m., Tuesday; and 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Friday

    Hermitage Community Center (3720 James Kay Lane, Hermitage) 
    9:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Friday

    Sevier Park Regional Community Center (3021 Lealand Lane, Nashville) 
    9 a.m.-12 p.m., Monday; and 6-8 p.m., Thursday

    Southeast Regional Community Center (5260 Hickory Hollow Parkway, Antioch) 
    10 a.m.-12 p.m., Tuesday; 6-8 p.m., Thursday

    Cohn Alternate Gym (Nashville Community Education) (4805 Park Avenue, Nashville) 
    9:30 a.m.—11:30 a.m., Monday; and 6-8 p.m., Tuesday 
    *You must register for badminton class 
    More info: Cary Freeman, [masked]; register online http://nashville.gov/ce

    Sango United Methodist Church (3301 Sango Road, Clarksville) 
    8 a.m.-11 a.m., Tuesday and Thursday 
    More info: Janet Ramser, [masked]

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  • jerry h.
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