After three students from Christ-King Catholic School earned bronze medals at the CWAJHAA badminton championships in Sylvan Lake, the news was broadcast on the school intercom.
“They said our names and what we got,” said Paul Georget, who teamed up with Steven McCrea to place third in the Grade 7 boys’ doubles category.
“(Fellow students) thought we weren’t going to get as far as we did, but we did well. They were pretty happy (with the medal haul). A lot of the teachers were congratulating us.”
Eric Pitzel of Christ-King was the bronze-medallist in the Grade 9 boys’ singles division.
McCrea and Georget were champions in Castor and CARA tournaments this season, but netting a medal at the CWAJHAA level was a breakthrough of sorts.
“It felt nice,” said McCrea, 13. “It was our first badminton medal. And I had never made it to CWAJHAA (previously), so it was pretty nice.”
The Chargers’ duo wrapped up a strong season two weekends ago in Sylvan Lake.
“We work very good together,” Georget, 13, said of his chemistry with McCrea. “We do a lot of strategy.
“We just cover each other. When we need help on the court, we just call plays and all that stuff.”
Georget is an up-and-coming junior curler who pitches with Stettler’s peewee baseball team, and McCrea plays hockey and soccer, but they came together for the school badminton season.
“We played in Castor and we won first, and then we won in CARA (at Stettler), and all those games were kind of easy,” McCrea said. “We didn’t really practise a lot, either. We had, like, five practices.”
They made their mark in Grade 7 play at CWAJHAA, even competing against club-level players.
“We played against a couple of teams that were pretty tall,” said Georget, relatively tall himself at about five-foot-six. “They were pretty good teams. We kind of stepped it up in the last two games, and (won 21-18) against the two kids that won the tournament. That was pretty good.”
In that match against St. Thomas Aquinas of Red Deer, the Christ-King tandem lost 26-24, won 21-18 and lost 21-14.
“We played good in the last two games,” Georget said. “We didn’t miss many (shots).”
McCrea, who sampled Stettler junior club badminton before Christmas, said the game is more challenging than it might appear.
“You have to move a lot,” he said. “You have to pick your corners and open areas.”
Pitzel and his twin brother, Adam, represented Christ-King at the CWAJHAA championships. Both benefit from facing heady competition in club badminton.
“School tournaments get easier, and we usually do pretty good in them,” said Eric Pitzel, who won his bronze-medal match 21-15, 21-16.
“I played pretty good in CWAJHAA. I didn’t hit a lot into the net or anything. Most of my shots, I made.
“I didn’t think I was going to get a medal, but I was pretty sure I was going to win a few.”
Pitzel exceeded his CWAJHAA expectations, winning five games and losing two in his third-place effort. He almost ended up facing brother Adam in the playoff round, but that showdown didn’t materialize, after all.
“I probably would have beat him,” Eric said with a laugh.
The Pitzel twins, who turn 15 in July, are also competitive soccer players now playing with Stettler’s under-16 team. On the badminton court, they keep sharp as members of the Stettler junior club.
“I like that not a lot of people play (badminton),” Eric said. “And it’s a one person game, so you don’t usually have to rely on someone (else), unless you’re playing doubles.”
JOHN MacNEIL, Independent editor