DVHS badminton team receives first funding from school district

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  • Sophomore Atharva Pulijal takes a jump to smash the birdie. //LUNA ASHEBIR

  • Senior Sreekar Vemula serves the birdie. //LUNA ASHEBIR

  • Sreekar Vemula prepares to clear a birdie. //LUNA ASHEBIR

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Starting next spring season, the Dougherty Valley badminton team will receive a head coach stipend from the SRVUSD district. The team has not received any district funding since its founding in 2011, so the stipend marks a decisive step towards more district support for the team.

This turn of events was possible because all schools in SRVUSD now have a badminton team. 

San Ramon Valley High School’s badminton head coach, Ben Lee, said, “Dougherty Valley was the pioneer for badminton [at SRVUSD]. SRV rode on that tail, and now both Monte Vista and Cal High jumped in.” 

Once all four schools had a badminton team, the teacher’s union, San Ramon Valley Education Association (SRVEA), could negotiate the team’s funding. This allowed the badminton team to join the Extra Serves Salary Stipend Schedule. 

Prior to this development, the team hadn’t receive any district funding despite winning numerous East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) championships and competing in the North Coast Section (NCS) championships since 2011. 

“When I was a brand new coach and we were in the beginning of COVID, [the school] was like, ‘Here’s your account,’ and the account was basically at zero,” Dougherty’s Head Coach Danielle Suh said. “We had to pay for the gym, the custodial fees, birdies and any [other] necessity for the team.” 

Consequently, the badminton team had to find external sources of funding. The team mainly relied on family donations and contributions from the coaches themselves. 

“Last year we had to pay for the birdies from our own pocket,” Assistant Coach Riad Hossain said. “For the last two years, the badminton team has had 50+ players, but last year only 20 parents donated. This year, we told parents that they need to help us out or we might have to make the team smaller.”

The head coach’s stipend is one of the main sources of income that a sports team receives from the district. For the badminton team, it was the biggest financial burden. Going forward, this newly approved stipend will help cover the supplies and costs that were previously paid out of pocket or funded by family donations and other fundraisers. 

This season marked another successful run for the team, with Dougherty Valley dominating the EBAL Championships and placing third in the NCS.