As good as it gets.
That’s what was inscribed on a dark blue shirt worn by Simone Desjardins, who qualified for the OFSAA badminton championships after taking the NWOSSA senior girls’ gold medal last Wednesday in Manitouwadge, which is about a 12-hour trip—”It was pretty tiring.”
But things could get better for the 18-year-old, who is no stranger to the biggest high school badminton tournament that Ontario has to offer, as she has been to OFSAA three times previous.
She won a third place medal as a grade nine player (she moved to the senior level in the middle of the season) in the ‘C’ division, and then in her grade 10 year she teamed up with her younger sister, Natalie, in the doubles event and took eighth place.
But last year she stumbled and did not finish in the top grouping, but in a tournament that sees close to 40 players participating in, it is accomplishment in itself just by reaching the all-Ontarios, which will start tomorrow and end Saturday and will be played in the York Region.
“In NorWOSSA I didn’t do as well as I thought, as I would go, but at NWOSSA I did better than I thought I would do,” Desjardins said.
A head scratching statement from a player that has been to OFSAA before, but there is more to this story.
You see, Desjardins wasn’t even playing badminton at the start of the season and it was at Fort High’s cafeteria during a tournament she wasn’t even playing in where she started back up.
“I found her sitting in the cafeteria and she was there watching the other players,” said Manami Alexander, who is a coach for the Muskie team, “so I asked her if she wanted to play and she asked her mom, and her mom said yes, and then…”
And then she, along with Dion Berube of Marathon, played well and came in third place with a 2-2 record, but it wasn’t the result that mattered. What mattered was that she was back.
“I had a couple of practices and just got back into it,” said Desjardins, who got the second placing at NorWOSSA, which was held at Fort High two weeks ago.
NWOSSA was next and there she—well, let’s allow Brian Church, who is a coach for the team and travelled with Desjardins to OFSAA, explain what unfolded.
The most exciting battle of the day was Simone Desjardins’ fight in senior girls’ singles event. After regular round robin play, there was a three-way tie for first place. She had beaten Gisele Delgado (Red Lake) in her
first match of the day, and lost against Amy Humphries (Michipicoten). Humphries had beaten Desjardins but lost against Delgado, and Delgado had beaten Humphries and lost against Desjardis—the result required a playoff to determine the silver and gold medal winners.
Desjardins got the bye in the first round. Delgado beat Humphries in a close match. Desjardins then had to play Humphries. She had no problem handling her this time. So Delgado and Desjardins placed first and second, but had to have a match against each other to determine who got the gold and who got the silver.
Desjardins was back on her game and beat Delgado without much difficulty.
Added Alexander, who has coached Desjardins since she started eight years ago: “She doesn’t show aggressiveness on the court, but she is very co-ordinated. She plays smart, and always looks at where she can place the birdie effectively, so it doesn’t look like she’s working so hard, but that’s because her shots are so strong and effective.”
But no matter the result. No matter the win-loss record. And no matter if she brings back an accessory around her neck, just by making it to OFSAA is achievement in itself, because after all, it’s not the finish that counts, it’s the journey.
As good as it gets.