The life of a coach is nomadic, and the life of an athlete is more so. I have been traveling a lot since I returned from Jamaica mid March. In fact I was home less than twelve hours after landing from Jamaica before heading up to northern Manitoba to OCN. The next weekend I was in Thunder Bay playing a fun tournament and making contacts for future clinics and coaching. From there I went to Minneapolis to play a tournament. I did okay there making semis in both singles and doubles and winning the mixed consul. Two days later I was on the road to Calgary, where I am now.
Minneapolis came quickly on the heels of the other trips. It ended up being a great tournament and I got to test my on court training and fitness. The training with Sweaty Training really showed as I was able to compete in three events without crashing. However, I made a lot of mistakes and struggled with some of the shots that are my bread and butter. This makes me even happier to be working these days with Gao Badminton in Calgary on my on court game.
I am excited to be working on the on-court part of my game with Coach Gao and Gao Badminton as well as helping coach the team. The opportunity to train and coach is huge. Gao Badminton has been generous in their support of me which I am very grateful for.
I am continuing to work with Jeff at Sweaty Training to improve my fitness and strength. There is always a gym nearby and always work to be done!
Brazil International Challenge is coming up the first week in May and I am hoping to be playing my best by then. The draw is tough this year and I am only in the qualifying draw this time.
Thank you to everyone for your support!
Onward and upward!
The Jamaica International came to an early end for me. I knew I was up against a tough opponent ranked much, much higher than me. Being my first international tournament after my injury I was not too sure what to expect. The weather there was about 30C outside with 80-90% humidity, and much higher temperatures inside the gym. During practice this felt very hot and I could feel myself dragging a bit towards the end of practices.
The first set of competition went quite well. I felt I moved quite well, attacked well, followed my game plan. However, by the second set the heat was paying its toll on me. I felt light-headed and my head began to pound. I knew I was overheating but tried to play through it. I couldn’t, and fell very flat the second set.
You have a lot of emotions after a match like that. I wanted to test myself after my injury, and I did that. I performed well the first set, staying focused and sticking to my game plan. But it is a great disappointment to fall so flat at the end. Rewatching the video confirms that the second set I made 21 mistakes and struggled to breathe. My face was red and I felt heat radiating off me.
I still had juice in my legs, but no way to access it. How do I manage the extreme heat when most of my training in winter is in gyms at 16C? That is the next question to be answered.
I stayed with a good friend Milan in a university dorm at the University of the West Indies. That was a unique experience. We stayed with the Peru and Guatemala teams which was also fantastic. Over the past few tournaments I have made friends with both teams. I also made new friends with two athletes from Congo which was exciting.
I am back home to Manitoba now after spending last weekend at OCN community coaching with a multi-sport team. I am excited to get back to training and coaching and moving head!
Onward and upward!
This year heading into Nationals I had very few expectations. Dealing with a fractured ankle and torn ligaments I went into competition hoping to not get re-injured. I knew that my hopes of winning were, at this point, unfounded due to my inability to train as I needed to, as well as some limitations from my ankle. I couldn’t push off properly in defense, or in my late forehand corner. Still, I felt I should go to Nationals. It is a time when the whole Canadian badminton community gathers. It is more than just a competition, it is also a time for friends to reunite, awards to be given, and meetings to be had. I ended up going to Calgary a week early and training at Gao Badminton and coaching their team. It was great to invest in the kids, spar, share what I know, and spend a lot of time at the court with the kids.
In the competition I was pleasantly surprised by how well I played. I won my first match in a three set, fifty-three minute game. Despite not being able to move as well as I would like I was able to play tactically well and play some higher quality shots to win. I was reminded how much I love competing. I love the atmosphere and the way that competition brings out different sides of people. It is a unique opportunity to treat everyone with respect, including yourself.
The second match I played against Joseph Rogers, a very skilled and experienced athlete. I was able to play decently well, but in the end he was able to capitalize on my injury. He used his experience and power to really push me into spots that were tough with my ankle. It was tough to lose the match, however I am happy with my ability to compete with the best in the country so soon after my injury. There are more competitions coming up, and I am always looking ahead.
Injuries are brutal. It is hard to struggle with confidence as I get back on court knowing I haven’t been able to train as much as would be ideal. It is tough to try to work within the confines of rehab and still try to improve. However, being injured has shown me just how many people I have supporting me. Both in the world of athletics, as well as people helping out emotionally, spiritually, and having my back on those tough days. I have had a lot of very professional help coming off of fracturing my ankle. Eastman Therapy has been a huge blessing getting me back on the court, and Sweaty Training has done an amazing job getting me back in shape. I still have a long ways to go, and I am so thankful to work with professional and experienced people. It has been great to coach and train at Gao Badminton Tao, they have really treated me like family and been considerate of my injury and helping me get court fit again. Overall I am extremely thankful for each and every person who has my back. Being injured really highlighted all the support I have. I am excited to come back stronger, and continue to share my love of the sport with the next generation.
I have some exciting news! This week I joined the Sweaty Training team thanks to a generous sponsorship by Sweaty Training. I will be training under Jeff Eides, the founder of Sweaty Training. Coach Jeff is a renowned strength and conditioning coach who graduated from University of Winnipeg. Coach Jeff has worked with everyone from enthusiastic youth athletes to professional athletes. I am very privileged to work under him as I recover from my ankle injury and move ahead to the next competitions, nationally and internationally. This is a huge step for me as an athlete. Proper strength and conditioning is a key part in any athletes development. It is a foundation I need in order to improve my performance, as well as to continue training without injury.
I will be proudly representing the Sweaty Training team as I compete nationally and internationally, as well as when I coach.
I want to thank Jeff and Sweaty Training for the opportunity! I am excited for what comes next.
In other news, rehab for my ankle is coming along well. I am able to hit the gym a lot these days, and I am on court a fair bit working on skills, and very controlled footwork.
Thank you everyone for your support!
One of the great privileges of being a coach is going into remote places to help jumpstart athletic programs. We got to do this in northern Manitoba.
We took a small plane in and landed on a gravel airstrip many hours late of our scheduled arrival time. We were met by the head of education. We got to talking right away and he said something fascinating. He said, and I paraphrase, “sports gives kids freedom. And beyond that it gives them skills and identity to move ahead in life. In a hopeless world sports gives kids opportunity and skills. Sports has saved this community,”
Sports has the ability to give kids hope through opportunity to go places, get university scholarships, and it gives positive attitude and identity. One of the huge positives of sports is giving kids mastery of something and the ability to learn. Those skills reach far beyond sports. Many impoverished kids struggle to find identity, or opportunities where they can succeed. Sports becomes something to focus and thrive at while also creating opportunities to get out of town, meet people, and open up new opportunities.
Playing professional badminton on the international circuit while coaching kids gives me a unique opportunity to share my own experiences and motivate and inspire kids to pursue their callings, wether in sports or someplace else. Hope is about holding onto the idea that things can change. Sports is all about creating change, in yourself, and in your teammates.