Wheeling Park District Community Recreation Centre

I’m a big badminton fan. More a fan of playing than watching professionals play, but a fan nonetheless. So when I hear the words “$2 badminton play from 6:30pm to 9pm”, they’re music to my ears! If only words weren’t so easy to misinterpret, or leave out information.

Anyway. The Wheeling Park District Community Recreation Centre (they reallly need to shorten the name somehow) is located on 333 W. Dundee Road, next to a police station so you can’t steal their badminton racquets. From the recreation centre, not the police. I don’t think policemen play badminton that often.

But this centre is quite big, and quite nice, being framed in red which seems to be the main colour of the building. There are two receptionists at the front desk, who are really friendly and all smiles, although there seems to be quite a lot of paperwork they have to do if you even want to set foot in the courts. They take down your name, address, phone number, birth date, criminal record, fingerprints, take pictures of you…okay so maybe not the last three. But it’s pretty heavy security for such a small thing, which is kind of weird and time-consuming. After that they issue you a day pass to whatever activity you choose. On Mondays and Thursdays they have badminton and ping pong, with spare badminton racquets for those who forgot their own, although for some reason, ping pong costs $5. I think it’s because they have many more tables to play on.

The big disappointment about going to this place to play badminton is the long, long wait. There are only three courts available, and even playing doubles on each court isn’t enough because of the sheer number of people who go (who happen to be all Asian or Indian). There’s a waiting system where you lay your racquet by the side of the court, and people rotate in from the right to the left in order of the lined up racquets, starting from the right and moving to the left. Those on the courts play two games of badminton before switching out, so this means that if you just want to rally with one another, you’ll have to give yourself a 20-minute time limit.

So the wait ended up being over an hour long, and we only got to play about 20 minutes. Doing a little math means that during the three hours of badminton play, two of them are spent just waiting in line. Definitely not worth it. What a let down. I’m going to Highland Park High School next time; at least their sessions are 2 hours long with 8+ courts to play on.

Apart from the big let down (as I’ve now dubbed it), there were other points of interest, such as the track that runs over the huge court. I thought it was a balcony for observational purposes at first, until I saw that everyone was walking around in circles. Then I thought they were trying to get a 360-degree view of the players (“weird!”), until I went up myself to see. A pretty ingenious way to save space, I must say. The second floor also has a lot of rooms for working out, lessons, places to work out and get fit. Seems like the facilities are really good. They even have games to entertain kids with, like the foosball table in the lobby/waiting area.

But still. I was disappointed at the badminton play. Nevertheless, at least the Wheeling Park District can boast about having such a place to go to. Northbrook has NOTHING.

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