A record number of U of T Mississauga athletes will take to the courts this week as UTM hosts the national varsity badminton championships.
Eight UTM Eagles are amongst 48 student athletes vying for national titles at the 2020 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Badminton National Championships. It's the first time UTM has hosted the four-day tournament, which runs from Wednesday, March 4 to Saturday, March 7 in Gym AB at the Recreation, Athletics & Wellness Centre (RAWC).
“This tournament is a great opportunity to bring the Canadian badminton community to Mississauga, and to showcase the abilities and talents of our student athletes,” says Ashley Beckles, a sport information coordinator with the RAWC.
The championship tournament marks the second time UTM badminton team members have qualified for national competition since the campus launched its varsity program in 2014.
In the 2018-2019 season, Rachel Wong became the first UTM Eagle to compete in badminton at the national level. Then in her third year with the Communication, Culture, Information and Technology program, Wong had a strong season, winning a bronze at provincials and top awards from provincial and national varsity sport organizations.
On the home court this week, the UTM team will face stiff competition from Ontario’s Humber and George Brown colleges, and strong national teams from Concordia University and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Beckles says the Eagles are ready to prove themselves with a mix of senior and rookie athletes competing in every discipline. Two rookies to watch are first-year life sciences student Margaret Anderson and first-year computer science student Ryan Chen who both won medals in women’s and men’s singles at recent regional and provincial competitions.
“This is the first time we have had eight athletes at the nationals,” Beckles says. “It sends a message to Ontario and the rest of the country that UTM can compete with the best.”
Head coach Lam Trinh, who has been with the team since the beginning, stays focused on the student athlete experience. He lauds the hard work of the players and the support from assistant coaches Jessica Dacquel, Ben Yong and Leslie Seto, and UTM’s athletics department.
“I truly believe ‘if you want to go far, go together,’” says Trinh, who was named CCAA Badminton Coach of the Year in 2019. “I want every athlete to enjoy every moment of the nationals competition, and bring out their best performance.”