Teacher Feature: Prof. Dommeyer Dominates Badminton

Cindy Von Quednow

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At first glance, Curt Dommeyer might look like a typical professor. He’s tall, has a commanding voice that lets him effectively lead lectures, and his glasses give off an air of authority, but there is one thing that sets him apart from his CSUN colleagues.’ He is an avid badminton player.

Before you scoff and imagine a simple game in the park, consider the physicality that is required of this Olympic sport.

Dommeyer works out six days a week, by either cross-training or playing, and rests only one day of the week, which happens to be his long teaching day, Tuesday.’ His doctors are impressed with the effects Dommeyer’s ‘hobby,’ as he calls it, has on his body.

‘It’s a fairly healthy hobby, it keeps me healthy, it keeps me fit,’ he said. ‘When I get a physical exam, doctors are often taken back by my parameters. When they take my blood pressure and my heartbeat’hellip;They say I’ve got the parameters of a 20-year-old, from working out so much, so I can’t argue with that.’ ‘

Dommeyer is so relentless he even has weights in the corner of his living room so he can work out while watching TV.

‘I would train even on my day of rest, but students wrote in their evaluations of me that I seemed wiped out,’ said Dommeyer, who has taught in the department of marketing for 30 years. ‘

That demanding workout regiment, to which he’s stayed true since he started’ playing badminton at the age of 21, has led Dommeyer to win about 50 national and international titles. Currently this impressively fit 60-year-old competes in the senior division that allows him to play against people in his age group, and is training for the 2009 World Masters Games which will be held in Sydney, Australia.

Dommeyer grew up in upstate New York and moved to San Jose, Calif. at an early age. He got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in California, before pursuing his PhD at the University of Cincinnati. By this time, he had already become a regular badminton player and had to drive 70 miles away from the school to play with a small group of people.’ One of the reasons Dommeyer came to Northridge is for, what else, badminton.

Although it may not be well known, Los Angeles is ‘kind of like the capital of badminton for the country. It has more flavors, more depth and more skill that any part of the country,’ explained Dommeyer.’ He moved to Manhattan Beach, which continues to be a badminton ‘hot spot.’

The sport has taken him all over the country and he has even played in Canada, where he met his wife in a tournament when they were paired up for a doubles match.’ The couple continues to play, compete, and win tournaments.

‘She is supportive of my playing and I’m supportive of her playing, were both look out for each other,’ said Dommeyer. ‘

His favorite place to play is his home club, the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club, where he also works as an instructor.

But like a true professional, Dommeyer doesn’t let his hobby get in the way of his job.
‘I haven’t noticed anything different in his teaching,’ said Ronaldo Felizola a senior marketing major enrolled in Dommeyer’s market research class. ‘Just from being an athlete myself, I know it can be stressful (to manage classes and a sport), but I don’t think it bothers him. It hasn’t affected class in a negative way.’
Dommeyer attends tournaments that fit his busy schedule, usually making it to four a year. ‘
In terms of being able to balance work and play, Dommeyer says it has to do with time management.’ This helped him last year when he was chair of the marketing department, and was still able to win 10 competitions. ‘

‘It has to do with being organized; you set so many hours aside for the training, for school, work and whatever else I have to deal with.’ ‘

Current chair, Bruce Lammers, can vouch for Dommeyer’s job skills.
‘ ‘He is extremely organized and always well prepared’hellip;It kind of makes the rest of us sick,’ said Lammers. ‘

This helps in his lectures as well. While the topic of market research might sound boring and complicated to some people, Dommeyer makes it so any major can understand what is going on by using clear examples and real life scenarios.’ It also helps that he has a sense of humor.

‘He bounces around the office a lot, and goes around swinging books like a badminton racquet,’ said Lammers, who added that Dommeyer is both modest and cheerful.

‘He is usually gut-bustingly funny, he is one of the funniest professors I’ve had. His class is cool and you learn a lot,’ said Felizola, who added, ‘It’s kind of cool to know that he plays badminton. It’s nice to know that professors aren’t just nerds and sit in their office all day.’

Dommeyer lets his classes know about his hobby at the beginning of the semester and notes that it doesn’t intimate his students, but in fact makes them feel more at ease. ‘They’re probably surprised to see me in contrast to the faculty, because many are a little overweight and paunchy-looking, I don’t fit that mold.’

Dommeyer used to offer his students a chance to play against him for an ‘A,’ but no one ever took up his offer.

‘A few students have talked about challenging me but it never got to the point where I saw them on the court,’ he said. ‘

Not to say that it would be a fair game. Although the game is severely underrated, it is in fact a complicated sport that requires a lot of endurance and discipline, two things that Dommeyer has down.

‘It is actually a very difficult sport on the body, because you’re moving very quickly. It’s demanding, both endurance wise and quickness wise,’ he said. ‘If you compare it to tennis, tennis is like a marathon, long distance running, and badminton is like a sprint’hellip;You’re constantly being faked one way or the other, and you have to constantly get your balance going and catch up to where the bird is going.’

Dommeyer says TV is to blame for the Olympic sport’s reputation as a recreational pastime.

‘Unfortunately, if you watch badminton on TV’hellip;it doesn’t televise in a way that shows the force of it. Whereas if you watch tennis, you get to hear the pock of the ball and you get to feel more of the force of the game,’ explained Dommeyer. ‘If you were actually able to show somebody a real game, and then try to play the game, you’d probably be impressed by it.’

In fact that is how the professor started himself, when he lost a match to 65-year-old player. In the same way badminton can be physically demanding, it could also be damaging if one doesn’t prepare enough or is not careful. Common badminton related injuries include wrist, foot and hip problems.’ Eye protection is critical, seeing as the birdie, when hit with enough force, can go up to 200 mph, said Dommeyer.

‘I’ve seen people have their eye glasses shattered and get hit in the eye who didn’t have any protection.’

Aside from being an avid and obviously talented player, Dommeyer is also a certified as an badminton umpire and can do so anywhere in North America.

Although he’s not sure about playing badminton as long as’ Henry Paynter who, at 96, is listed in the Guinness World Records as the oldest competitive player in the world, he’s confident he can continue his routine for a while longer.

‘ ‘I’ll play as far as I can hold up,’ he proclaimed.