The Bull's Eye

AOTM: Mirabelle Huang

From playing badminton as a family activity, Mirabelle Huang has impressed on the world’s stage.

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AOTM: Mirabelle Huang

Huang placed second in girl’s doubles at the 2015 Pan American Games. She would later compete again in 2017 and 18.

Huang placed second in girl’s doubles at the 2015 Pan American Games. She would later compete again in 2017 and 18.

Amelie Lee

Huang placed second in girl’s doubles at the 2015 Pan American Games. She would later compete again in 2017 and 18.

Amelie Lee

Amelie Lee

Huang placed second in girl’s doubles at the 2015 Pan American Games. She would later compete again in 2017 and 18.

On the court, the rest of the world falls away until there is just the movement of the opponent’s badminton racket and the blur of the shuttlecock shooting across the net. With her eyes pinned on the shuttlecock, Diamond Bar High School senior captain Mirabelle Huang lunges forward to smash it back toward her opponent.

“When you’re really into the match, you don’t really notice anything that going on outside of the court,” Huang said. “You’re at that point where you’re literally in the clouds. You don’t pay attention to anything but what you’re doing, what you’re feeling and what the game is [like].”

Since first picking up her racket at nine years old, Huang has become one of the top junior badminton players in the world. Her skills have led her to compete in prestigious tournaments like the World Junior Championships and the Pan American Games against other top players from around the globe.

While she has racked up numerous trophies and awards for the sport, Huang didn’t always want to pursue badminton competitively. Her father introduced her to badminton as a family activity and though she took lessons once a week, it wasn’t until she joined the Global Badminton Academy in Pomona that she became serious about the sport.

“When I first started, I actually really didn’t like playing badminton …but being with a team that trains really hard and put a lot of effort and sacrifices into the sport really pulled me up,” Huang said.

At the GBA, motivated by her teammates and the high expectations there, Huang invested more time to play badminton competitively. Now, she trains over 12 hours a week.

“Surprisingly, it wasn’t the sport [I liked] at first,” Huang said. “After I started getting better, I started appreciating badminton more because [I realized] how much work had to go into preparing for tournaments and how much you had to face failures and things that don’t go your way.”

At 13, Huang participated in her first year at the USA Junior National Championships, where she did not place. However, she went on to compete against other elite players, placing second at the girls’ doubles under-15 age category at the 2015 Pan American Games in Tijuana. She also qualified to compete at the 2017 Pan American Games for the girls’ doubles under-17 age category but did not place.

When she was 17, she qualified to represent Team USA in the team event in Salvador for the 2018 Pan American Games after winning her event in the Junior International Trials. There, she and her team placed third at the team event.

In 2018, she also earned a spot on Team USA to compete at the 2018 World Junior Championship Games, placing 18th out of 44 in the team event. It was one of the highest rankings that the U.S. has ever achieved at the tournament.

Although Huang has achieved great success in her career playing badminton competitively, she has also struggled with defeat.

“When things don’t go your way and you’ve spent all this time preparing—and it just happens to be during that one game that really mattered that you mess up —you feel like everything just went down the drain because [you believe] that was the most important game,” Huang said.

Huang also described the challenge she faces in living up to her own standards and the high expectations of those around her.

“There were times I lost to players I’m supposed to beat, and everyone expects you to beat [them] based on your skill level and everything,” Huang said. “It leaves you wondering ‘am I getting worse, or am I not as good as everyone thinks I am?’ When those things happen, it’s kind of hard to get back from, but once I enter into the routine of training, I get back into it.”

Huang has been one of the players instrumental to the team’s success as CIF champions. Since joining the varsity team as a freshman, she went on to win three Mixed Doubles CIF Championships and two Southern California CIF Championships. As primarily a doubles player, Huang has a 54-1 record in mixed doubles, 8-0 in women’s singles and 27-1 in women’s doubles.

“She is definitely one of highest-leveled badminton player we’ve had in a while,” Wells said. “She definitely can keep the team focused—she has that personality where all the players look up to her. They know she’s the best player…some players who are really strong have an arrogance about them, and she has none of that. She just wants to go out and play.”

While Huang wants to focus more on her academics in college, she doesn’t plan to drop badminton in college and is deciding between attending UCLA and UC Berkeley this fall.

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