Shuya Huang is a first-year Ph.D. student in chemistry from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Before joining UTM, she completed her undergrad at Dalhousie University, where she gained invaluable experience on the badminton team, which she brought with her to UTM.
Since joining the team, Huang has practiced continuously to improve before the team’s upcoming tournaments. Along the way, her coaches and teammates have provided constant support, teaching her how to add more power to her smash while reducing her risk of injury, as well as strategies to help her get across the court at a quicker pace.
While Huang has never been professionally trained in badminton, her involvement at Dalhousie, where she helped to co-run the university’s badminton club for three years, has given her plenty of exposure and experience within the sport.
Huang calls herself a strategic player. Where she may lack in technical skill, she makes up for in a heightened sense of awareness and observational skills on the court. Huang’s strategy consists of taking the time to observe her opponents during warm-up rallies and the first few points of the game to note their strengths and weaknesses. She then tailors her shots to target her opponent’s weak spots, and avoids giving them any advantages over her. Huang believes that her observational skills help close the gap between her and her competitor’s level of skill.
Her primary objective in playing badminton has always been to enjoy the game. She was first introduced to the sport as a young adult, and continued with it after discovering that she not only enjoyed it, but was also able to see her skills progress and improve with practice. While she believes in competition and trying her best to defeat her opponent, her continuous improvement and love of the game are what she values most. Huang overcomes the tendency to become overly competitive during tournaments by acknowledging that too much of a competitive mentality can hinder her ability to “play with a clear head,” as well as compromise her overall enjoyment.
Given her skill set, Huang is predominantly a singles player. Although she “likes the feeling of taking control of the court” that comes with one-on-one play, she also enjoys the fast pace and complexity of doubles.
Although badminton is played in singles and doubles, team chemistry is still an integral part of the sport. Huang believes that there is “a strong sense of comraderie, both during practices and tournaments” among her teammates. As is commonly the case for team sports, Huang describes her team as a family. An essential part of that family are coaches who Huang credits as “extremely kind and considerate” people who care about her teammates’ well-being and academics just as much as the team’s athletic performance.
Off the court, Huang is passionate about the research that brought her to UTM. She studies a class of membrane cells called G-protein coupled receptors. Her friends and family are aware of this passion, as on many nights Huang can be found working late at night in the UTM labs. Her research has also helped her to develop a strong sense of perseverance.
She’s faced many obstacles as a researcher, including failed first attempts at experiments and the frustrations of unexpected lab results. Huang credits her success as a researcher to her patience and ability to keep an open mind.
During her time at UTM, Huang hopes to grow as both a scientist and an athlete. After completing her Ph.D., she hopes to pursue her love of science in academia or industry. She dreams of one day seeing her research applied in the field. Huang’s commitment to improving on the court is mirrored by her continuous efforts to build on her research and complete her Ph.D. The enjoyment she gets from both sports and academics fuels her perseverance in both fields.
This year, the UTM badminton team attended the Fanshawe OCAA tournament, making it to the semifinals and finals in several categories. With Huang on board, the team is set to face their fierce rivals, the Humber Hawks.