The number of competitors in an annual badminton tournament in Hay River has made a dramatic leap upwards.
This year’s event – held from Dec. 1 to 3 at Diamond Jenness Secondary School – attracted an estimated 149 players from Grade 7 up to an open division including adults, according to organizer Kelly Webster.
That compares to about 88 players last year.
Webster, noting this year’s number is a record for the event, said there are several reasons for the increase, including from three Hay River schools – Diamond Jenness Secondary School, Princess Alexandra (PA) School and Ecole Boreale.
One reason is the ongoing reconstruction of the Don Stewart Recreation Centre and the lack of an indoor arena this winter.
“I believe that is absolutely why we see so many from PA and Ecole Boreale this year,” she said. “I think there is probably a direct relationship there. Traditionally, December is a pretty heavy time for hockey tournaments and for our kids going and travelling. So this year nobody was heading off to a hockey tournament this weekend.”
Princess Alexandra School hadn’t participated in the tournament for a number of years, but this year sent 19 players.
Webster said there were also several reasons for more competitors from out of town – Fort Smith, Fort Resolution, Ndilo and a lone player from Yellowknife.
“Fort Smith has come the last couple of years, but they had some real success last year,” she said. “So their team was considerably bigger because I think they’re building on the success that they had. They had 32.”
Players from Ndilo participated because a teacher who used to be in Fort Providence moved to Ndilo and got students interested in badminton.
“So now I expect to see Ndilo here pretty regularly,” said Webster.
She noted that students from Fort Resolution also participated after an absence of a couple of years.
Webster said 149 is a huge number of players for the tournament.
To deal with that number, some games were actually played on the evening of Dec. 1 before the tournament was scheduled to begin.
Plus, some matches during the first round were changed from best two out of three to just one game.
“Just to make things fit in time-wise,” said Webster.
Fiona Huang, a Grade 11 student at Diamond Jenness Secondary School, enjoyed the tournament.
“I think it’s a great experience and there’s a lot of people from out of town here and we’re all getting together to play badminton,” she said. “It’s nice to get together to play the sport.”
Sherman Magtibay, who was entered in the open category, said he was simply looking for a sport and decided to try badminton once again.
“Last time I was playing was back in high school,” said the 23-year-old. “It’s pretty good to get back into some kind of sport.”
The Scott McAdam Memorial Badminton Tournament, which is sponsored by the Mackenzie Recreation Association, has been held in Hay River for about six years in a row after having moved around to various communities.
Webster said the Mackenzie Recreation Association had asked Hay River if it was interested in becoming the permanent home for the event.