By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
Play fast, play hard, play fair — the motto of the Fanshawe Falcons and maybe more true to the school’s badminton than any of its other varsity teams.
The Falcons have hit their championship stride in waves and as of late Fanshawe has hit a drought harder than a birdie smash.
After being a perennial powerhouse throughout the 80s and 90s, Fanshawe has had trouble picking up the provincial titles since then.
With the exception of the women’s doubles team picking up five Ontario medals between 2007 and 2000, the Falcons haven’t picked up any hardware in the OCAA final in three years for their mixed doubles, five for the men’s singles, seven for the men’s doubles and 18 season for the women singles.
Out of the 12 varsity sports offered at Fanshawe — a college offering a lot of two year programs — only three of the athletic teams don’t have players in their fourth year on their squad and that includes the badminton team.
The motto for the Falcon racket sport could easily be recruit hard.
“We really do have to bring in players year in and year out that are competitive and at a certain skill level just to stay competitive with other schools that can maybe develop their players for longer,” said fifth-year Fanshawe badminton head coach Matt Plachta. “You can do what you can for two years, but some programs in other schools they focus on three or four year programs and they get the players for longer.”
The fifth-year head coach needs to add develop fast to his slogan as well for his team to be successful.
“You can’t train the whole team on one thing,” Plachta said. “With certain players you really have to rush through and you really do have to figure out the time of how quickly and how well they learn. You have to tailor everything specifically to certain athletes.”
The season is still early and the Falcon’s team is still working out the kinks and figuring out the pairings for the double’s and mixed teams after wrapping up the annual Fanshawe Invitational last weekend (Nov. 16 to 18) with the club making it to the hometown meets quarter-finals, semifinals and even the finals for the women’s doubles.
This year the national championships are being held in Barrie at Georgian College, making two Ontario teams for each division qualifying for the Canadian college finale Feb. 28.
“We want to not only get some teams at provincials but top-two is our goal for three of our teams in men’s doubles, maybe a mix and girl’s singles,” Plachta said.
If the Falcon’s head coach recruited hard and develops fast, he should expect fair results at the Ontario championship.
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