Mount Allison’s smallest varsity team has been nearly unstoppable in the Atlantic league for almost a decade. This year, the badminton team looks to build upon their continued dominance at the national level.
Team captain Jaryd Morrissey said many people do not see badminton as a serious sport. “The sport generally has the reputation [of] a backyard game played at the cottage,” he said.
The team’s season kicks off on Friday. They have retained several key players from last year’s championship season. Leading the Mounties are captains Olivia Adams and Morrissey, both hoping to continue as top players in the league. “Badminton at Mt. A has been very strong within our league for the last eight years and we’ve built a reputation for it,” Morrissey said.
The team has no players graduating this year, which is typical for a rebuilding team, not one making another championship run. Head coach Steve Scott said that everyone in the league sees the Mounties as the team to beat. “I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish this year as a team,” Scott said. “Our team [has] a lot of depth that other teams in the league struggle with.”
Scott said that “the most notable growth in the program has been the team-building.” This is important, as badminton has not only a team component, but an individual component as well.
“[The] expectation is to win the conference again this year, for the ninth year in a row, and send as many players [as possible] forward to nationals,” Morrissey said.
The Mounties are currently ranked fourth in the country. “The team at Mt. A is quite strong, as the results can show,” Morrissey said.
At the annual Canadian Nationals, Canadian players are not the only ones showcasing their talents. Nationals has expanded its horizons to include exchange students who have played at the international level from countries such as China, South Korea and Japan. These countries are badminton powerhouses and have been producing the world’s top players for years. The fact that Canadian players can compete with these players speaks to the high level of caliber at Canadian colleges and universities.
Once the Atlantic championship has been played, Mt. A’s team is set on sending the top player in each category (singles, doubles and mixed) to represent the league at the national level.
This can divide a team, as only eight players will be sent to nationals. Athletes have to compete not only against league players, but against their own teammates.
The Mounties have a team-first mindset. “The team has a great family atmosphere,” Adams said.
By now, winning in Atlantic Canada may be old hat for the badminton team. However, the Mounties have not won hardware at the national level since 2014, when the team brought home the bronze medal in mixed doubles. Additional morning practices have been added to their training schedule with the hope of achieving high results at nationals.
“We’re going for much more than just the Atlantics,” Adams said.
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