On their home court, in front of friends and family, the Notre Dame Cougars proved once again they are at the peak of the high school badminton world.
The Cougars closed out their second straight 4A Alberta Schools Athletic Association badminton provincial title in Red Deer on Saturday afternoon with 55 points and seven trips to the podium.
“There’s kids that are not in club and just pulled through. Kids that, even as their coach, quarter-finals maybe bronze medal was good enough for me, and they won gold,” Notre Dame Cougars badminton coach Leroy Stanisclaus said.
“All these kids here this year, because nationals is next weekend, we have a whole bunch of Canadian players that are playing, so for them to get that gold medal, the feeling is ecstatic, unexplainable.”
Stanisclaus added that while winning in Edmonton last year was special, winning in Red Deer was just icing on the cake.
“Being home and winning at home is the greatest feeling ever. The kids are way more excited… the last week we trained so hard because they pushed for this banner. It’s amazing,” he said.
He also explained that the level of play was ramped up in 2017 and for that reason, this banner is even more special than last seasons.
“This year means 10 times more than last year. Just because the competition is way higher, the stakes were higher,” Stanisclaus said.
“Better badminton. For us, we know we can compete at that level. It means way more to us as a school and I’m proud of the kids at Notre Dame.”
Doubles play was where Notre Dame had their biggest success, with four of their seven medals coming in that category including a gold medal win by Jenna Hollman and Janelle Agot.
In the intermediate bracket, the Notre Dame duo didn’t lose a game all tournament long on the way to gold.
Hollman is now a two-time provincial champ after their 21-18, 21-16 win over the duo from Lillian Osborne High School and she said it was special to do it with a new partner in Agot this year.
“It feels great, almost better than the first time,” she said.
“It’s different because every partner I’ve had brings different things to the table and I think (Janelle) brought exactly what we needed for this particular year, so it was really nice.”
Agot, only in grade 10 and playing up in the intermediate age group said it was also awesome to win at home, especially over such a challenging team.
“It was nerve wracking. They’re club players and I think one of them went to nationals,” Agot said.
“It was a little scary going into it. You don’t want to be too nervous, but you have to have a little bit of nerves. Balance it out.”
The intermediate mixed tandem of Anne-Marie Purdy and Brian Pabilona from Notre Dame won gold on the B-side 21-18, 21-19 over Ecole Heritage of Falher.
The Notre Dame junior boys pair of Brody Kopec and Tyler Watt grabbed silver as well as the senior girls team of Emily Downey and Denssyl Marijoboc.
In intermediate doubles boys play, Ben LeBlanc and Ty Moline won bronze 21-17, 21-12 over Strathcona High School.
Tiegen Mattice picked up a sliver on the B-side in junior boys singles play and Stacy Mabborang suffered her only loss of the weekend in the senior girls singles final to earn a silver medal.
The Hunting Hills Lighting also picked up a few medals on Saturday, with Michael Yoo winning gold on the B-side of the senior boys bracket. In junior mixed play, Erica Greenshields and Trevor Baron won gold on the B-side.