Conestoga’s badminton team is embarking on a new chapter in their history as they welcome new head coach Michael Kam.
Kam took over the reins of the badminton program after his appointment in late August and brings a lot of experience to the team.
He played all through high school and then also at a varsity level in university. As well, he has travelled across the province to compete in various competitions.
“I draw from a lot of experience,” Kam said. “Having played varsity, I know what skills are really needed and focus on finding drills to strengthen players’ weaknesses.”
The team currently consists of 14 players, although only four are females (the team is still recruiting) and members have the opportunity to test their skills throughout the year at Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Invitational tournaments.
“We only have funding to go to a certain number of tournaments,” said Kam.
“We choose to enter into whichever tournaments we feel would give us good experience and fit into our schedule.”
The Condors have been in two OCAA Invitational tournaments so far – one at Redeemer College and another at Georgian College.
The tournaments are not always formatted the same way, but usually allow for one or two men’s and women’s singles teams from each college, as well as one men’s and one women’s doubles teams, and one mixed gender team.
Conestoga’s participation in the Georgian College tournament on Oct. 26 and 27 was fruitless in terms of results.
The team made it to the semi-finals, but lost overall to Georgian, Centennial and Cambrian colleges, with Georgian going on to win the tournament.
The Condors will have the opportunity to make amends in the next OCAA invitational which will be held at Fanshawe College from Nov. 16 to 18.
These tournaments are worthwhile for the experience alone, and Kam already knows who the strongest singles players are, but wants to use these as a chance to assess which players he can pair in doubles.
‘We’re trying to figure out what the strongest doubles teams will be and are using the tournaments to match different partners,” he said. “Everyone has a unique playing style, and the trick is often matching up two players who suit each other.”
The East and West regional tournaments at the end of the season are much different – each player can only play one single event and the tournament is set up in an elimination-style format.
The top players from each regional tournament move on to the OCAA provincewide championships, and success at these qualifies the players even further for participation in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) nationwide tournament.
Although these competitions are still far off, Kam and the team are working hard to prepare for them.
“There’s a great camaraderie among the team,” he said. “The team gets along extremely well and everyone supports each other.”
The players share Kam’s thoughts, and are looking to have success not only on a personal level, but also for the team as a whole to have a successful season.
“Personally I want to stay injury free and play a full season while having fun,” said player Steve Richards. “Overall I think we just need to focus on playing our best and growing as a team.”
As well as achieving success throughout the year, Kam also wants to quash the opinion of some people that badminton is still a “backyard” sport.
“It’s an extremely physically demanding sport,” he said. “You have to have endurance, speed, strength and reflexes.”