BY MIKE VIELMA
The last of the shuttlecocks have been smashed as the Conestoga Condors’ badminton team wrapped up its five-month-long season on March 1 and 2 at the Regionals at Mohawk College. Michael Kam, coaching his first-year of collegiate level athletics, sent 10 players to take on the best of the OCAA West region in an attempt to make it to Provincials.
Kam said, “There were mixed results, with some wins and some losses, but overall the team did extremely well (at Regionals). Unfortunately, not quite well enough to get to Provincials.”
There were 14 players each in the men’s and women’s singles pools and seven teams each in the three doubles pools. Only the top three from each pool advanced to Provincials.
That is all in the past now, as Kam is already concentrating on new tactics for next season.
“Next year I plan to work on conditioning right off the bat instead of focusing on trying to determine which players to cut. Once everyone is up to par on strength and conditioning, then I will start with the fundamentals and continue to build from there.”
He said he found that no matter how skilled some of his players were, they were more prone to injury because they were missing some key fundamentals and lack of proper conditioning.
It is difficult to condition your players, teach them the key fundamentals and constantly push them to improve in a short period of time with limited gym time and sometimes prior commitments from players.
Kam, who has been playing badminton for about 30 years, knows it takes more than skill to make an impact on a team and was astonished to see how close his team became during the season.
“One of the nicest things from the season is how well the team came together. There was a lot of good camaraderie and it was a pleasure to see them as a nice, cohesive team at the end.”
Kam encourages other sports teams to plan social outings outside of scheduled practice and game times to really bring everyone together as a solid, single unit. He said once the team members got to know each other better, it made them less afraid to point out each other’s strengths and weaknesses during practice. He said that aspect helped his team tremendously.
Kam believes only two or three players will be returning next year, so he is encouraging anybody with a slight interest in badminton to come out for the team. However, Kam means business and again wants to have a competitive team next season.
“I am looking for players who are dedicated and are ready and willing to learn. Badminton is very much a game of skill, hand-eye co-ordination, speed, strength and endurance and it takes a lot of those qualities to be successful.”
More importantly, he is strongly urging females to come out. He said sometimes they couldn’t field a complete team because there weren’t enough women available because of prior commitments and other reasons.
“I am very proud of all the team members for their commitment and dedication and all their hard work. I think it was a learning curve for all of us and I thank them for absorbing the information I gave to them and being patient with me,” Kam said.