Muskie ‘birders’ set for new season


Members of the Muskie badminton teams kicked off their season today with an exhibition tournament in Atikokan.
Results of those matches weren’t known as of press time.
But coach Brian Church was optimistic when it came to his thoughts on some of his key players going into this season.
“I have high hopes for several players this season,” he enthused.
“Aaron Bujold, who placed first last year at NWOSSAA in senior boys’ singles, will definitely have a target on his back,” he noted.
“But I suspect he will have no difficulty advancing.
“Mykaela Putzer is a very strong singles player who is moving up to the senior level this year, and I expect that she will do very well,” he remarked.
“The girls’ doubles team of Lauryn Marchant and Tayah Badiuk have also moved up to the senior level and should be very successful.
“Returning senior girls’ doubles team of Sam Berg and Mykenzie Booth tend to take practice less seriously, but have the potential to advance if they are playing well,” Church added.
“At the junior level, Bella Ward will be a very strong competitor and should advance.”
Church also said the returning junior boys’ doubles team of Rylee Booth and Owen Riches are a strong pair that should advance.
“Junior boys’ singles player Gavin Morriseau, as well twins Susan and Louise Andy, have shown promise as newcomers,” he noted.
Church also said the contingent has had nine practices heading into today’s exhibition tournament in Atikokan.
“Those who have not played before are just learning the basics but improving quickly,” he remarked.
“Those who are returning players, or club players, are in much better shape for the exhibition.”
A good number of the Muskies already have had great starts to their seasons as members of the Fort Frances Badminton Club.
Just how beneficial is it to have that local club experience prior to the high school season?
“It is always players with club experience that are most successful during the season,” Church stressed.
“Badminton has a very short season and it is impossible for anyone to gain enough skill to be competitive in the limited time we have to practice for the school season,” he reasoned.
“Naturally-skilled athletes, and those with experience at racket sports, can–and have been–very successful in our short season, but those who have been playing badminton throughout the year in club have a huge advantage,” Church said.
“Their reaction times and racket awareness is so advanced compared to those without the familiarity.
“The club is very beneficial, and the main reason most of our athletes have made it to OFSAA over the past few decades,” he added.
Church admitted he’s not sure exactly what to expect for his players this season as he has not seen the other competition yet.
“Of course I am hoping all players advance, but the outcome will certainly depend on the level of the competition,” he remarked.
“I am hopeful and optimistic for this season, and expect we will have several qualify for NorWOSSA”
Church also believes that being prepared mentally can help his players rise up to any obstacles they may face this season.
“After losing a point or having a bad serve in a game, being able to rebound and shake it off is something that comes with experience and can be difficult to those new to the game,” he conceded.
“I have seen very strong players fall apart after a small error and lose the game,” Church added. “And I have seen others [who were] able to get over it quickly and mount a strong comeback.
“Unforced errors are always difficult to deal with,” he said. “But if the player can learn to focus on the present, and not dwell on an error, they tend to be more successful.
“Another challenge is the long travel time prior to a day’s play, as often students are tired from the trip and take a little time to get their energy up to game level,” he noted.
The NorWOSSA qualifying tournament will take place April 5 in Dryden, with the NorWOSSA championships then starting April 18 in Sioux Lookout.
Thunder Bay will host the NWOSSAA championships April 25, with OFSAA championships slated for May 3-5 in Windsor.