Women’s singles player Maddie Alvarez is going to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Badminton National Championships for the fourth and final time in four years.
Alvarez earned the honour of representing Atlantic Canada after sweeping her matches at the national qualifiers earlier this month.
“I’m over the moon,” she said. “It was really important to me personally to go, and it’s really cool to have King’s representing Atlantic Canada on that stage. I’m really glad the training paid off.”
Alvarez says she started playing badminton when she was six years old because she despised soccer and her parents couldn’t handle her energy. She fell in love with the sport.
She started playing competitively when she was 10, but stopped after suffering a knee injury in high school. It wasn’t until Alvarez came to the University of King’s College that she started playing competitively again.
“When I came to King’s, there was a good program here, so I started up,” she said. “It’s been a little bit of an up-and-down, but from six years old to 21, I think it’s been a pretty good run.”
Heading into the tournament, Alvarez is looking forward to being around top competition and people who share her love of badminton. However, she knows her opponents will be tough to beat.
“I’m going to be playing against people who have been training on national teams in China for most of their lives, and that’s scary,” Alvarez said with a laugh.
“I’m going to get my ass kicked. But part of the fun is getting your ass kicked and realizing, ‘Hey, I’m on this level with these incredible world-class athletes.’”
Neil Hooper, the athletic director at the University of King’s College, says Alvarez is in for a tough time in British Columbia, as women’s singles is the toughest division.
“Olivia Lei from Humber (College) is the single’s representative on the Chinese junior national team. She’s the marquee player,” Hooper said.
In sports, there’s always talk about retiring athletes going out right; Alvarez has her perfect exit too.
“The past three years at nationals, I’ve been sixth in Canada, which is great, but it’s out of six,” she said with a laugh. “They wipe the floor with me.
“I would love to take a set on somebody. I would love to take a match, maybe gun for that (top five).”
Hooper can’t say enough about Alvarez’s spirit.
“Since the day she walked through the door, she was a bleeder of blue and white for every person, whether they play badminton or any sport at all,” he said.
“We’re going to miss so many things about Maddie. She really brings that supportive spirit, and everything you look for in an athlete.
“Tremendous person, and a tremendous loss for us.”
Alvarez will not be alone on the trip to nationals.
Teammate Sam White, the reigning Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association male rookie and player of the year, is representing the region in men’s singles.
The tournament runs March 2-5.