By Darren Lum
Published May 1 2018
Attitude and hard work figured prominently for the Red Hawks junior badminton team in capturing this year’s Central Ontario Secondary Schools Association championship team title on Thursday April 26 in Haliburton.
The last time the juniors took the team title at COSSA was 2014 Hawks coach Jason Morissette said.
Morissette said none of this would have been possible without the strong work ethic of this group. He also commended them for their willingness to be coached. He appreciated their desire to improve and their regular requests to stay late for practice which was usually five days a week from 3:45 to 6 p.m. starting in March. Their efforts in practice ended up inspiring Grade 9 teammates to also stay later. This team title is also a product of help from the senior players who worked out with the juniors.
Every podium finish for the team proved to be pivotal for this championship.
The Hawks finished with 33 team points to edge out second place school Port Hope High School by just three points. Port Hope scored a pair of first place finishes which totalled 30 points.
The mixed doubles team of Hannah Riopelle and Ethan Glecoff finished third while teammates Zach Morissette and Braeden Robinson who represented the team in the boys’ doubles finished second and the girls’ doubles team of Melissa Brinkos and Rebecca Archibald also finished silver.
The point breakdown was 15 points for first 12 for second nine for third six for fourth three for fifth and one for sixth.
Riopelle and Glecoff may have lost the silver medal match to Norwood District High School but earned the important nine points with two consecutive wins over St. Paul’s High School of Belleville and Adam Scott Collegiate Vocational Institute of Peterborough after dropping their second match to Norwood.
“Without the nine points the mixed [team] got us we don’t win the team title” Morissette said.
Coming into COSSA this doubles team entered as the fourth seed from Kawartha and improved on that seeding. They finished 3-2.
This was Archibald’s first championship and she called it “phenomenal.”
After going to COSSA with her volleyball team and not being able to win there it felt satisfying to win silver in her second COSSA experience. The silver is proof the hard work paid off.
“We worked really really hard for this. Always going to practice. Always working on all the different things” she said referring to particular shots at the net and precision with her serves.
Archibald recalls a timely adjustment before the final in a rematch against Quinte Christian High school of Belleville who they lost their second match against and had left them in the tougher bracket.
The girls’ doubles team recognized the back court player from Quinte Christian was left handed. Instead of sending deep shots to the right corner (to take advantage of conventionally weaker backhands of a right-handed player) the Hawks team changed it up and put it in the left corner.
“It really helped us and we could take advantage of that. That’s how we won. It was exciting and we medalled” she said.
They finished 4-1.
Archibald complimented her partner Brinkos for her open minded attitude.
“It’s been really great to work together and to be able to give each other constructive criticism and be OK with that is really helpful for both of us” Archibald said. “If we mess up a play we can go next time … and it’s really helpful for that to be OK.”
The two understood one another’s strengths and weaknesses she said. This helped their development and during matches.
Robinson came through in the clutch with a new partner this year Zach who beamed about the team title and his own silver medal performance.
“It’s pretty neat to have all the success. Great teammates and good coaches” he said.
Zach finished sixth at last year’s COSSA championship with another doubles partner. His partner moved away but he hoped to improve on the sixth place with tournament rookie Robinson. Robinson practised with the team but did not compete in any tournaments last year. Despite the lack of experience he performed well to the satisfaction of coach Morissette.
His doubles partner agreed. “He really came through in the tight moments when we needed the couple points or whatever to win.”
The doubles team duplicated the rematch victory as the girls’ doubles team did by defeating East Northumberland Secondary School of Brighton in the silver medal match after losing to them in their second match.
They finished 4-1.
Zach said it’s been a great year to this point of the sports season which already included an Ontario Minor Hockey Association provincial title with his Highland Storm team and a tournament win with his Red Hawks junior hockey team.
He has an undeniable admiration and appreciation for his teammates.
“It helps that there are other teammates around that you can share it with – like a family bond” he said.