When Betty Cowan approached the Norwood Community Centre board in May 1972 with a request to add another sport to its program offerings, the Norwood Badminton Club was born. She never imagined that the group would quietly celebrate its 41st anniversary in 2013.
The club began at Nelson McIntyre Collegiate in that first year but with high school activities often trumping badminton nights, another venue had to be found.
The Norwood School Division offered Nordale School on Birchdale Avenue as an alternate space in September 1973 and the club has been there since. The day of the week has varied from year to year,but for the last 10 years they’ve been consistently meeting on Monday nights.
Cowan recalls the first ever meeting of the group in May 1972.
"A few of us actually played badminton, but most of us didn’t. We wanted to have some fun and get some exercise," she says.
Betty recalls inviting the Manitoba Badminton Association out so that novices could learn how to play the game. The mostly rookie group had to learn the basics, from how to hold a racquet to how to keep score.
Socialization was and is a driving force for the club but don’t think these folks aren’t competitive. Betty, one of those original rookies, has a fierce competitive attitude. She is over 80 years old and still plays a mean game.
"I like to play," she says. "You play to win. Whoever you’re playing has different moves, you need to put the bird out of their reach. It’s all very strategic."
Clay Wotherspoon, the only other original still with the group, concurs.
"It’s a fun group, but everyone plays hard and gets the adrenalin flowing."
Betty’s bookkeeping background aids her in keeping meticulous records of the club. Norwood C.C. never has to worry about accurate financial information or reports with this volunteer in charge. Any leftover money goes back into community club coffers each year.
She modestly lauds the efforts of her volunteer colleagues and Nordale School principals, secretaries and janitors over the last 41 years for contributing to the Club’s endurance. But make no mistake — Betty’s been the driving force.
Lucille Lysy, a member of the club since 1978, is quick to acknowledge this:
"If it wasn’t for Betty, the club probably wouldn’t have survived. She’s been the spark, such a committed volunteer."
Members so appreciate her contribution they presented her with a Volunteer Award in 2004 during the annual Norwood C.C. Volunteer Appreciation dinner.
The club’s 32 members participate because they want to, not because they feel chained to an exorbitant health club or exercise workshop fee. The cost to play in this club is 10 bucks for the entire season — which is probably the best sports fee deal in town. The 1972 fee was $3.
The membership fees pay for the birds. Norwood C.C. has contributed racquets and nets so that players don’t have to burrow Louis Riel School Division equipment.
Sessions begin in mid-October and end in late May. Each Monday, the three courts are full from 7:30 to 10 p.m.
If you’re interested in participating, you don’t have to be a skilled player. The group is a mixture of young and old, with common interests in keeping active and meeting new people.
For more information, check out the Norwood C.C. website: www.norwoodcc.ca
Adriano Magnifico is a community correspondent for St. Boniface. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.