RBHS sophomore Sophie Swicionis returns a volley during a badminton match against Timothy Christian in Riverside on Feb. 3. (Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer)

The high school sports season, interrupted for three months by a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the state, got off to good restart for the Riverside-Brookfield High School badminton team last week with the Bulldogs defeating Timothy Christian 14-1 in a dual meet at the RBHS gym, without spectators.

Each RBHS player played three matches in a round-robin format. For the players, it was just a thrill to be back playing competitive matches after their season last year was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“It was definitely really nice to be back, it’s really fun,” said RBHS senior Madeline Pollock after the meet. “It feels surreal because I never thought that I would have the opportunity to come back and play like this. It means a lot because I really, really miss badminton.”

Pollock, the Bulldogs’ No. 2 player, won two of her three matches against Timothy Christian.

All the players competed while wearing face masks.

“It’s difficult. There’s a lot sweat and it’s kind of gross, but I would do anything to be back, so I’m willing to deal with,” Pollock said.

Before practices officially started last month, Pollock honed her skills by occasionally playing badminton at a facility in Naperville where players could rent court time.

Pollock attends all of her classes remotely, so coming to school for badminton practice is a highlight of her day.

“I look forward to coming here every day because it is kind of tiring sitting at my computer all day and not talking to any of my friends,” Pollock said. “When I do come in person it’s really nice. It’s like, ‘Oh, other people exist.’”

Teammate Lily Ransel, another fully remote student, feels the same way about coming to school for practice.

“You get to see other people and talk to people every day,” Ransel said.

Ransel, a senior and the Bulldogs No. 5 player, won all three of her matches against Timothy Christian. Ransel said competing against another team brought a sense of normality to a school year in which many of the typical things a high school student would do, like going to football games or dances, were not taking place.

“It’s a lot of fun to get to play and actually have competition and not just have practices,” Ransel said. “This felt a lot more normal than a lot of the other stuff we’ve been doing.”