What does it take to make a champion? Red Deer College athlete Mary Smith may have some idea. Smith is the CCAA Badminton Athlete of the month. For those who have watched Smith play during her two years at RDC this may not be a surprise.
Badminton Head Coach Chad Cargill said, “My leader for sure is Mary Smith. She went to nationals last year, finished second in ladies doubles and third in mixed doubles. She’s our strongest player.”
In a press release from RDC, Smith is said to be responsible for the College’s highest national ranking in badminton. That ranking was sixth but it’s currently ninth.
So who is Smith? Basically, she is a student athlete who was born to play badminton.
“My parents both play, they still play actually. My dad and mom go to the masters competitions in B.C. and Alberta.” And they don’t go to watch. “My dad is in the top two in Alberta for over 50 for guys.”
Raymond and Sheila Smith got Mary into badminton while she was a teenager. They lived on a farm and Mary practiced often. “When I was a kid they had a Quonset shed — with a badminton court in a Quonset because I lived out in a farm. And they got me to do drills after school everyday.”
It may seem like hard times to some, except her dad did stress one rule when playing badminton. “Have fun and really put it all out there,” was what her dad would say.
If Mary got her mental game from her dad, she got her physical game from her mom. “Her and I play more of a similar style. We’re really good with speed. Our reflexes are very similar. I’d say that was a handed down trait,” said Mary.
And she does put it all out there.
“Mary’s been a force in the singles event this season, finishing first, second and third in ACAC tournaments; she’s also earned two second-place finishes in women’s doubles and two third-place finishes in mixed doubles,” the RDC release stated.
And she’s done it all while being a mother. “I have four kids.”
After finishing second in singles last weekend, Mary is hoping for better results at the national qualifying tournament on Feb. 17th and 18th. But what she’s really hoping for is success in doubles with her partner.
“I would rather go to nationals with a doubles partner because it’s a great experience for that other person to go,” said Mary. “They get to go for a week, and compete at that really high level. It’s just better if two of us can make it from Red Deer College than if I was to go for singles.”
But the truth is, more often than not, Mary does better, if only slightly on her own.
“I think I prefer doubles because my reflexes and my speed are really good, but I tend to go farther in singles.”
Wherever she goes, it seems Smith will be on the winning team — either in life as a mother of four, or on the court in singles, doubles or mixed doubles play. She’s truly a born and bred champion.