Badminton Club beats TCNJ; students storm court*
Mere seconds after junior Racket McBirdie sent the final birdie to the floor in Dillon Gymnasium, hundreds of students stormed out of the bleachers and rushed onto the court, jubilantly celebrating the badminton club’s 5-2 victory over The College of New Jersey on Thursday night. The celebration continued a trend of Princeton court-stormings that has become even more prevalent in recent months.
“It was exhilarating. It’s so nice to have the support of our classmates and peers,” McBirdie said. “I mean, sure, we have a 33-0 record all-time against TCNJ, but it just means so much to beat them, you know?”
Ever since dozens of spectators stormed Princeton Stadium after the Orange team beat the Black team in the football team’s annual spring scrimmage, many scribes have wondered if Princeton has taken the tradition too far, writing that students should “act like they’ve been there before.” Those criticisms intensified in October, when fans rushed onto Powers Field after the sprint football team lost to Princeton Tech by only three points, its closest margin in several years.
Administrators have also raised safety concerns, especially after a particularly messy celebration on Dec. 9. When the men’s hockey team skated to a 3-3 come-from-behind tie against No. 9 Union, fans joyously raced down from the upper deck of Baker Rink and rushed onto the playing surface. Thirteen students were taken to McCosh Health Center with concussions sustained from slipping and falling on the ice.
Only two or three students were in attendance at the start of Thursday’s seemingly innocuous badminton match, according to reports, but as word of a possible celebration spread through campus, more and more fans showed up. TCNJ entered the match with an 0-10 record, but spectators said Princeton’s victory was still memorable.
“It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. You just had to be there,” said Becky Thornhill ’13, one of the leaders of Thursday’s celebration. “Sure, people can talk about the records and the history, but those of us in that gym just knew we had seen something special.”
Players have generally appreciated the fan support, though some have expressed confusion about the rise in post-game celebration. Earlier this month, students stormed Carril Court after senior forward Will Barrett hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer — in a three-on-three intrasquad scrimmage.
“I don’t even know how they got in there. It was a closed practice,” Barrett said. “One minute, we’re running drills in an empty gym, and the next minute I’m being tackled by a dogpile of screaming fans. It was like they came out of nowhere.”