2013 CCAA Badminton Nationals

February 24th, 2013

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Mariner receives Pacwest coach of the year honours
Janice Walker says her staff and talented athletes deserve recognition too
Ben Ingram
Daily News

Vancouver Island University Mariners badminton coach Janice Walker has spent many years with the team. From her time as a player and now as a coach, she's helped the program bring home plenty of hardware.

Walker learned this week that PacWest had recognized her with coach of the year honours in badminton.

"There's lots of good, strong coaches in our league. I have a lot of respect for them," she said. "It's nice to hear that they respect what we're doing here too."

She said much of the honour must be shared with her assistant coach Dawn McGuire, who has helped carry the load of the badminton program alongside Walker.

As the team's past coach, Alf McGuire still plays a large role to help mentor not only the athletes, but the staff as well. She also praised the efforts of Mike Clark, a former player who performed twice on the national level for the Mariners and now donates a large portion of time to help the team.

But for Walker, the best part is watching the athletes develop.

"They're with us for four or five years, they grow into mature capable adults," she said. "It's pretty cool to be part of that phase of their life.

This year the Mariners will see two athletes, Pat Thompson and Melissa Liew, attend the 2013 CCAA National Badminton Championships in Barrie, Ont. Feb. 28-March 2.

Thompson is a fourth-year veteran with the team who has worked his way to his first nationals berth this year under the guidance of Walker. Liew joined the team this season after making the move from Winnipeg.

Their coach described her approach as technical, one that emphasizes conditioning and strategy. That's important, Walker says, when the competition in the Lower Mainland has access a much wider array of facilities.

"It's tough for us you know, to be in the community and not have that ready access that they have to be playing every day," she said. "It's tough for us to keep up (with the athletes in Vancouver) and we have to use all the tools at our disposal."

For Thompson, the march to an appearance at nationals built year over year under the guidance of Walker.

Last year, the 21-year-old just missed a shot at performing on the Canadian stage, but this season he made it his mission to achieve just that.

Walker could not be happier to see him reach the goal in 2013.

"He's worked hard on every aspect," she said.

The elements of training for badminton success go beyond the rigorous attention to technical detail espoused by the Mariners coach. Proper sleep patterns, nutrition and hydration are key for the VIU stars.

For first-year Liew, Walker's contributions have gone far to help her build a successful career with the team.

"She's like a second mom," Liew said with a laugh.

Indeed, Walker believes that a commitment to sport can bring with it plenty of life lessons. In the end, she hopes that every athlete in the program gains a life-long love for the sport.