Though teachers’ unions have officially dropped the job action that killed extracurricular activities for most of the school year, the return to regular after-school schedules has been slow. Many students have seen their favourite sports go by the wayside, with no hope of reclaiming the season.
That is not the case for all local students, however, as four brimming teams of Elmira’s high school badminton players (eight players each for junior and senior girls and boys) prepare for the Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association (WCSSAA) games.
“This year we have a full team. I’ve been coaching this now for about 15 years and this is the first time where I’ve had a totally full slate, which is fantastic. It’s a great response from the students,” said badminton coach Mark Carlin.
Though this is by far the largest EDSS turnout in many years, Carlin is not surprised to have a full roster of 16 junior and 16 senior players this season.
“Because the extracurriculars were not running there was sort of a pent-up demand. When we did finally offer this we got a very big response.”
There are other differences from previous years, he added. Despite students flocking for the chance to get on the court, there were no opportunities to set up matches between schools. Instead, competition this season is reserved for the WCSSAA games starting April 8 and April 9 for juniors and seniors respectively.
“Normally we would have a few mini-meets with other schools, but we didn’t get that organized as a county this year so we’ve only been practicing and playing amongst ourselves.”
Badminton remains the only WCSSAA-scheduled sport so far, with 15 schools participating at Conestoga College in Kitchener. The finals are taking place at Huron Heights Collegiate Institute April 11.
Though many students on the team are avid badminton players returning from previous seasons, others can agree that any sport is better than no school sports at all.
“Because the sports were cancelled, a lot of people were eager to join the team,” said EDSS student Victoria Frey.
Carlin’s teams began practice three weeks before the March Break holiday and have been meeting after school for a total of six weeks.
“I would say we have a few teams that we’re going to be entering, doubles teams that should do quite well, should go fairly deep into the draw,” Carlin said of his teams.