PILLEY’S ISLAND, NL — When it comes to excellence in table tennis and badminton, Green Bay South is where you look in central Newfoundland.
When teams for the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games were formed, it was no surprise most of the athletes representing those two sports were from Dorset Collegiate.
The Pilley’s Island school has won four straight provincial team table tennis titles in the past two years, not losing a single match in the process. Seven of the eight members of the central team are from Dorset Collegiate.
Sarah Warren, a 14-year-old Grade 8 student, has been a part of that success at the provincial level. She is hoping it carries over to the Winter Games.
Athletes at Dorset Collegiate train regularly for table tennis throughout the year, competing in various school and extracurricular tournaments during the season. However, Warren said the Winter Games provides additional incentive to push a little bit harder to be at the top of their games in the quest for a gold medal.
“Everybody can have off days I guess,” she said. “I am hoping I can get the rest needed and play the best that I can.”
Just to compete at the games is a privilege, she said.
“I haven’t been to Winter Games before,” she said. “I am really, really thankful that I get the opportunity.”
The competition is Warren’s priority, but she’s also looking forward to staying in the Athlete’s Village and getting a chance to meet young people from across the province.
“I imagine the social part is going to be different too, getting to know new people,” she said.
Travelling to Deer Lake with 12 students from Dorset Collegiate is also something special.
“I think it will be some good bonding time because most of us are on our school team as well,” she said.
Ashton Thomas, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student, is proof that hard work and determination can go a long way when you dedicate yourself to a sport.
He’s been playing since Grade 7 and achieved the ultimate dream with last year’s provincial badminton title. He trains hard to be the best in his sport, including travelling to nearby Springdale and other communities for additional matches when the opportunity arises.
The hard work has helped get him — along with four of his schoolmates — to his first Winter Games.
“It means so much,” Thomas said. “I have always wanted to do more than just school sports, and I have been really waiting for an opportunity to try to do more.”
He’s looking forward to the challenge of competing against the top athletes from each region of the province. He also hopes to meet new friends and enjoy the experience fully.
Thomas is proud of the success of his small school in Green Bay and its ability to put together such impressive lineups in the two sports. He appreciates the opportunity to share the experience with many of his friends.
He thinks a gold medal is within reach.
“Our team is very talented, and I really hope we can go in and have a really good competition,” he said. “I know these are the best athletes in the province, so I hope we can show what our school is made of.”
Both table tennis and badminton are second half sports, and will take Thursday to Saturday.
Meet the teams
Central Newfoundland table tennis team
Under-14: Carter Walters and Nate Taylor, both of Triton
Under-17: Riley Vincent of Robert’s Arm and Joshua Waterman of Wareham
Under-14: Sarah Warren of Robert’s Arm and Laura Callahan of Pilley’s Island
Under-17: Haley Elliott of Pilley’s Island and Karlee Warren of Robert’s Arm
Central Newfoundland badminton team
Benjamin Tizzard, Ashton Thomas and Ty Winsor, all of Robert’s Arm, and Dylan Collier of St. Alban’s
Angel Wiseman and Brianna Warren of Robert’s Arm, Jessica Willcott of St. Alban’s and Gabriel Hunt of Gaultois