The EDSS badminton team saw a spike in enrolment this year, with plenty of enthusiastic students practicing almost every day of the week to prepare for their big upcoming Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association tournament on April 9-10.
Junior (Grade 9, 10) and senior (Grade 11,12) players all train together to form a team of the full 32 players, both boys and girls. This year saw some 40 EDSS students sign up for the team as of early March.
“This year we’re going to have a full team,” said coach Mark Carlin. “Some years we don’t get the 32, we might get 24 or 28 or something like that. But this year it looks like we’ve got a lot of keen people.”
The team may have to do some actual cutting of players this year to get to 32, which is decided in badminton competitions rather than the coach choosing who to keep and who to cut.
The team practices right after school to align with the student schedules – and sometimes the enrolment number is not an accurate reflection of how many students attend.
“Some schools have alternate practices for juniors and seniors, we just have them all together,” said Carlin. “Kids have jobs and things so sometimes the attendance is sporadic.”
Given the experience of some of the players, Carlin is considering creating a mixed team for the tournament.
“So this year, we’re still trying to figure out whether we might separate them,” said Carlin. “And play them as mixed teams. Because we have a couple of strong girls; it might be our best competitive advantage as a school.
“Because there are some really strong club players. They play badminton clubs around the area and get way more hours on the court than just the high school practices.”
The tournament features two different categories; one for high school trained badminton players, who solely practice with the school, and then the open division for players who practice outside of scheduled school practices at a badminton club.
Carlin has been coaching for more than 15 years and compared the sport to another favourite of his, tennis.
“There’s a lot of quick reflexes in badminton,” said Carlin. “Tennis is not quite as critical because you have time; tennis is more technical – the way you pace your strokes is a lot more technical. So it makes tennis a lot harder to learn as a beginner. With badminton, anybody can pick up a badminton raquet and have some fun.”
Members of the EDSS team all compete against one another during practices. In previous seasons, EDSS occasionally competed against other schools for exhibition to hone their skills, but that may not be an option this year.
“We have in the past have gone down to St. David Secondary School – something closer is easier,” said Carlin. “They have come here, for a little meet type of thing. It is good to play different people, instead of always playing the same people. Because in practice it’s usually the same people playing each other so they can learn different styles by playing other schools.”
Badminton is played in singles and doubles. The tournament takes place on April 9 for the juniors and April 10 for the seniors.