The NAIT badminton team found success both on and off the court under sunny Honolulu skies over the Christmas break. The team travelled south, along with King’s College and Concordia,
for the 2015 Hawaii Aloha Badminton Tournament which was hosted by the Honolulu Badminton Club. The tournament pits players from the Alberta schools against players from Hawaiian colleges and members of the Honolulu Badminton Club.
In their respective pools, Nick Rocque won gold in both the men’s singles event and in mixed doubles with Hellena Fedoretz. Jeffrey Ko and Eva Zawalak took home the gold in their
mixed doubles category. Jason Rausch and Eleze Munro took home the mixed doubles gold in the consolation pool. Munro also won gold in women’s singles.
This was the team’s eighth badminton appearance in Hawaii under coach Jordan Richey, who has also taken the squad to Florida. The trip, partially funded by proceeds from NAIT’s own
badminton tournament, was the 2014-15 edition of an annual voyage that acts both as a primer for the ACAC season and an opportunity for team bonding. Team building is especially important this year, as NAIT’s entire roster is composed of ACAC rookies.
“It was an incredible bonding experience,” said first year Radio and Television student Eva Zawalak.
“Nobody knew each other, so up until this point it’s been hello at practice and then goodbye. We have a closer connection now.”
The team ate every meal together, roamed Hawaii’s famous beaches, went snorkeling, body surfing, and sampled the Honolulu nightlife. They also hiked Honolulu’s Diamond Head trail with the Kings College and Concordia teams, which grants hikers a spectacular view of the city from the crater of a volcano. Zawalak spoke on how the relationships built during these activities can have tangible results on the court.
“When I’m playing with my partner now in doubles or mixed, it’s a better game that we’re playing. You know each other better. You can be candid with your partner and you play better when you know them as a friend.”
The expectations are high for the Ooks, who are the top ranked badminton team in the CCAA. NAIT has had a gold medal winner at Nationals in at least one category for each of the last 4 years. NAIT is on the courts next on Jan. 25 at Olds college for the ACAC Alberta Series No. 1. You can catch them in Edmonton on Feb. 7 for Alberta Series No. 2.
Next after that is Concordia for the ACAC Championships on Feb. 21. If the team gathers enough points during these outings, they will be off to Halifax for the CCAA National Championships, which take place on March 5.