By JEFF BOMBEN
A new Conestoga College badminton star emerged at the OCAA Provincial Championships.
Mike Del Fante won a silver medal and became only the third Conestoga person or team to medal this year.
Del Fante dominated at the tournament, losing only one match prior to the finals. However, he was defeated by Simon Yip from Humber College in the finals. After losing the first set, 16 to 21, he fought back and won the second set, 21 to 15. The final set was a nail-biter , but Yip won it by a score of 21 to 18, sending Conestoga’s hero home in second place.
Del Fante, 22, is from Sudbury. He graduated from Cambrian College in 2010 where he studied to become a paramedic. He is currently a post-graduate advanced care paramedic student at Conestoga College.
In 2004, while attending La Salle Secondary School, Del Fante picked up the badminton racket for the first time. Just two years later he won the Northern Ontario Secondary School Athletics (NOSSA) championship and placed fourth at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSSA) championship. A year later, Del Fante won NOSSA for the second straight year and placed third at OFSSA.
In his second year at Cambrian College, he won a gold medal in mixed doubles at provincials and went on to win a bronze at nationals. During his third year, he came back to win a silver medal at nationals.
At Cambrian College, Del Fante and his team would train four times a week and he always found time for the sport he loved.
“Instead of going to the gym and hopping on a treadmill and doing weights, badminton was an interesting way to exercise,“ he said.
But things this year have dramatically changed since coming to Conestoga College. “Second semester was brutal, you only have one practice a week (due to lack of gym time). You can’t even maintain your skills,” Del Fante said.
“At other colleges like Humber and Cambrian, they were practising four to five times a week and that’s why they are so sharp.
“At Conestoga you don’t even have a chance. I don’t even think I played as good as I should have because I didn’t have the resources to train.”
In addition to the lack of training time, Del Fante found he focused on helping other players. “I really like coaching, don’t get me wrong, but if I am being treated like a player and I am expected to perform, I need the time to train.”
However, he added, “I came here for school, it was just a bonus that Conestoga College had a team.”