Lyons Township High School junior Stephanie Lin surprised herself a second time to close out 2013 as a banner year. After winning the state badminton singles title in May as a sophomore, the Burr Ridge 16-year-old scored a perfect 36 on the ACT college entrance exam in December.
Q. What was it like winning the state badminton title?
A. That was the biggest surprise of my life! I get really nervous with my parents watching. It’s just a lot of pressure and I need a few less pairs of eyes on me. My mom was home watching online and my dad stood outside. He got a text that I lost the first set and then another text saying it was going to a third set. Then he heard the cheering and came inside to find out I had won.
Q. What will the coming season be like?
A. Tryouts are the first week in March. I’m looking to enjoy this next season and also to defend my title. Ever since the state tournament, I have been feeling the pressure at outside events. I train with a team in Oak Brook and we went to two tournaments, New Jersey in November and Boston in December. I won the New England Junior Open for my age group.
Q. How did you feel after learning you scored a perfect 36?
A. That was a surprise, too. I took the test on a big snow day and had trouble getting in. I wanted to get a taste of what the ACT was like and it turned out well. I tried arguing I shouldn’t have to take it, but it’s a state-mandated graduation requirement. The score of 36 has definitely opened a lot of windows. I was gunning for a 34 and it surprised me.
Q. What else are you involved in at school?
A. I’m on the math team, which meets once a week and goes through the whole year. I like the individual events and being on the eight-person team. It’s a collaborative effort solving problems.
Q. How did you become an equestrian, and what do you like about it?
A. I started riding when I was 6 years old. When I was younger, I really loved horses. Riding is a nice feeling of technique and freedom. I like to do jumping and dressage once a week at Luke Stanley Farm Riding Academy in Countryside. Dressage is like horse dancing, if you watch the Olympics. You use your feet and legs to communicate with the horse.
Q. When did you start playing piano, and why have you kept taking lessons?
A. I’ve been playing since I was 4 or 5 years old. It’s one of those love-hate relationships but it’s so much fun, I have to practice. My teachers focuses on the big classical, romantic and baroque pieces. I like pop, too. One of my favorites is Chopin’s “Fantasy Impromptu.” Piano itself could be a sport. Your fingers get sore.
Q. What are your future plans?
A. I’ve been looking at a lot of colleges but am undecided right now. I really like the sciences. Biomedical engineering and pre-med seem to really interest me. This summer, I’m looking for research opportunities to get a taste of what labs are like in college.