Feb. 19, 2015 – Coming off three gold medals at the 2014 CCAA Badminton National Championships, the NAIT Ooks are quite eager to get back to Nationals.
This season, the institution’s badminton program has added one of those gold medalists to its coaching staff, three-time National Champion Jessica Yu.
Yu, who alongside Powin Lau, captured the women’s doubles title last year, is an apprentice coach for the Ooks this season as a part of the Female Apprentice Coach Program.
“At the start of the year I was curious to see how Jessica would adjust from player to coach as she was just coming off of her third CCAA National Championship last March,” said Ooks head coach Jordan Richey, who also serves as the ACAC’s Badminton Convenor.
“To no one’s surprise, Jess has made the transition seamlessly and is a great addition to our coaching staff.”
Yu has won championships in women’s doubles and mixed-doubles and those are the strengths of NAIT’s program this year, according to Richey.
“Her experience is most definitely an asset to our program,” he said. “The fact that she has three National Championship banners hanging in our gym gives her instant credibility to our young team.”
Having a female coach is an advantage according to Yu, who believes many girls respond better to women coaches.
“I find that there are differences in the way the sports are played between men and women as our physicality are different,” said Yu. “We need to play to ones strengths.”
Earlier this month, the Ooks wrapped up the 2015 ACAC Team Championship, finishing ahead of Concordia University of Alberta.
The ACAC Badminton Championship will be hosted this weekend by Concordia, which also has a Female Apprentice coach on its staff, Samantha Wong.
At the recent ACAC tournament, Yu had a chance to chat with Wong, who placed 4th at the 2011 CCAA Badminton National Championships and 5th at the 2013 event – in women’s singles.
“Samantha and I took the Level 1 coaching course together and we also used to compete against each other,” said Yu. “It has been great discussing the difference between coaching and playing.”
Yu would love to see as many Ooks as possible qualify for the 2015 CCAA Badminton National Championships, which will be held March 4-7 at the University of King’s College in Halifax, N.S.
If anyone understands what a National Championship experience means to a student-athlete, it’s Yu.
“The CCAA is an integral part of my life,” said Yu. “It supports the sport I love to play and through the sport I have learned a lot from it and I can apply it to my everyday life.”