The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy recently underwent significant changes in its athletic program, notably adding an IHSA girls badminton team while removing baseball and softball. In an interview, Christopher Moment, IMSA’s Athletic and Co-Curricular Director, provided insights into the school’s motivations and future athletic plans.
According to Moment, the decision to introduce a girls badminton team stemmed from a noticeable surge in interest within the IMSA community and the surrounding area. He emphasized that potential students also expressed enthusiasm for badminton, making it a natural addition to IMSA’s sports offerings. Moment stated, “The addition of badminton will bring a sport that [. . .] can provide a competitive experience to our students over the years.”
However, the discontinuation of baseball and softball might raise concerns among students who enjoyed these sports. Moment acknowledges this, saying, “We want to continue to encourage students who have participated in baseball and softball in prior years to seek out those opportunities in their home communities during the summer months as many of these students participate in club or travel-type sports teams.” He also pointed out that IMSA offers various other sports for students to explore, broadening their options.
The decision-making process involved a comprehensive year-long study, during which Moment consulted with predecessors in his position and coaches of the affected sports. He explained, “I reviewed the participation numbers of both sports and considered the trends that we are seeing, and there were some of the factors that allowed for a decision to be made.” Notably, the declining participation numbers in baseball and softball played a significant role in the final decision.
Regarding resource allocation, IMSA will optimize existing indoor facilities to accommodate the new girls badminton team. Moment affirmed the school’s commitment to sustaining sports offerings over the years, taking into account factors like interest, facility availability, and resources. “The ability to utilize our current inside facilities were a key factor in determining the availability of space to support a badminton team,” he said.
Adaptability is a top priority for IMSA in the ever-evolving landscape of sports and extracurricular activities. Moment stressed the importance of consistency in sports offerings to maintain relationships with conference schools and other institutions. “Making the changes this past year was significant, but we are expecting these changes to have a long-term positive impact on the athletic community here at IMSA,” Moment concluded.
IMSA’s decisions to sponsor a girls badminton team and discontinue baseball and softball were influenced by community interest, participation trends, and a focus on long-term sustainability. The school aims to provide a diverse and enriching athletic experience, remaining responsive to the changing interests and preferences of its student body while fostering strong connections with other institutions for competitive opportunities.