By Barry Stewart
The Hope Standard
This was meant to be a story to drum up participation at adult drop-in badminton — but by coincidence, the turn-out was surprisingly healthy on Monday night.
“We had 13 tonight, a record for 2011,” said organizer Inge Wilson as she was packing her racquet and heading home. “We may have had a few more in the fall but this was the best so far in the new year.”
With winter weather limiting outdoor pursuits, it’s been the pattern in past years to have people bounce back into badminton after the Christmas break. Until Monday, the bounce had been more like a flop, with only one or two of the three courts getting used on most nights.
Perhaps the tide has turned now.
Another big change for those who haven’t been in the gym this school year is the apparent brightness, thanks to the new lighting fixtures.
“They’re T-5 fluorescents,” said school district electrical contractor, Keith Gillis, on Monday. “We replaced the original T-12s and the new ones use two thirds the power and give about 50 per cent more light. We replaced the metal halides at the high school gym as well last summer and they save 30 per cent of the power and give about 30 per cent more light than the old ones.”
Local log home builder, Ford Morgan, figured he hadn’t darkened the gym doors in about 12 years when he came back on Monday night. “It used to be 50 cents, the last time I played!” he said.
It’s now $2, which covers the cost of shuttlecocks and insurance provided by the sponsors, the Hope & District Recreation Commission.
“My friend Rick told me about it,” said Morgan. “I figured I’d come have some fun and get in shape.”
While they were busy increasing the cost of the game, they went and changed the scoring system on Morgan. It had him confused for a few games but he was getting the hang of it as the night moved along.
“I’m not used to it yet — but they say it will be better,” he added.
The “new” scoring system has been in use for some time in other parts of the world but has now taken a stronghold in Hope, thanks to a handful of locals who have been playing at St. Mary’s in Chilliwack on Mondays.
In the old system, you only scored when your team was serving — like in the old scoring system in volleyball. Now in both net games, there is a score for one of the sides on every serve. Make a mistake on your service and the other side gets a point… and you lose the serve. Old games ended at 15 and they now go to 21.
“The games seem to move a little faster now,” said Wilson, “and it kind of makes the score closer, because you gain points off the other team’s faults, not just your own good plays.”
The current attendance seems to be two thirds male and one third female, with ages ranging from teens up into the 60s, said Wilson.
When it’s a good turn-out, all the games are doubles, allowing 12 people to play at once. Teams are generously mixed around as the night rolls along, so games vary from intense to more relaxed and tactical, depending on the players involved.
There’s lots of laughter and praise — and every game ends with a sporting handshake.
A player who is totally new to the game might have an easier time breaking in on a Monday night, when there has usually been more free space, compared to Wednesdays. A past history in the sport is an asset, though.
Newcomers Erhard Behrens and Nat Baker grew up playing badminton. Behrens, who moved to Canada from South Africa in 2009, has been in Hope since October of 2010.
“I grew up in Cullinan, [home of the ‘Cullinan Diamond’] which is a small town like Hope. We had a group much like this, playing throughout the year.”
Baker, who works at the Hope Visitor Info Center, grew up in Middleton, Nova Scotia, where he played the sport in high school and went to the Provincials in singles badminton.
“It’s a good social atmosphere here,” said Baker. “It’s a bit competitive too, which is good. I like to challenge myself to get better every week.”
Badminton nights are open to age 15 and up, Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at C.E. Barry gym.
Players need their own racquet and non-marking runners.