After suffering an ACL injury at the state competition last year, badminton player Kyleen Jan is looking to turn the page on her recovery with another shot at a title. Jan is the first sophomore team captain for Naperville North High School, and with a state win in doubles under her belt, Jan hopes her hard work and self-discipline will lead to more success.
Athlete name: Kyleen Jan
Age/year in school: 15/Sophomore
Hometown: Lisle, Ill.
How long have you played badminton? 5 years
What do you love most about badminton?
Badminton is a constant challenge where anything can happen in a fraction of a second. You can come back from 10 points down and completely turn the game around with a single shot, and there are so many variables in the game that keep you wanting to improve all the time.
What are your goals for this season? How will you achieve them?
Coming off of a recent ACL recovery, I’m not pushing my goals this season to be too extreme. The main priority is keeping my knee healthy, so this season I just want to enjoy the game and achieve the most I can. I believe all of this is possible through coming to practice every day with all the self-discipline, effort and winning attitude I can give.
What are you looking forward to most this season?
Last year, we had several excellent players who graduated, so now our team is composed of younger, energetic players who are eager to win. I’m looking forward to seeing this team progressing as a whole, with everybody gaining more experience to improve our skills.
Do you have any rituals or superstitions when you play?
Before my games, I like to find a space to myself, sit down with nothing but my iPod, close my eyes and drown out everything else for a good couple of minutes. This preparation helps me clear my head, but I mainly use this time to run through visualizations of my game before stepping on the court.
Who has inspired you most in your athletic endeavors?
My family, hands-down. Without my parents and their time, commitment and most importantly, support, there’s no way I’d be an athlete today. Putting 100 percent of my effort into improving my game is my way of repaying my family’s efforts in supporting me to play badminton.
If you didn’t play badminton, what would you be doing?
I’ve played sports my whole life, and other than badminton, I enjoy basketball and soccer the most.
Who is your favorite athlete and why?
Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. Watching his return after a torn ACL drives me to do everything I can on and off the court to rise to a higher level. More importantly, I truly respect his humble gratitude off the court, a trait you rarely see in professional athletes. He understands that his success results from his family, fans, and city -- not his leg.
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy outside badminton?
I love being active and doing activities outside with friends. Music is also a huge aspect of my life - I’ve learned to play the piano, trumpet and a handful of other instruments, and I enjoy finding new music/artists.
Favorite quote or words to live by:
“Success is a project that’s always under construction.” - Pat Summitt
For me, this means always finding ways to improve myself in all aspects of my life -- school, home, the court, etc. As soon as I reach a certain goal, I instantly look for another challenge -- it’s how I make sure I keep getting better.
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