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(February 7, 2002, Gazette)

It’s a hit

Photo by Pamela Gill
Geoffrey Pye, pictured in the SWGC gym, is setting his sights on the Canada Winter Games.

On this incredibly icy Corner Brook morning, Geoffrey Pye holds a picket sign denouncing student debt and stands shivering at the edge of the Grenfell College campus.

Today Mr. Pye, a second-year in the outdoor pursuits stream of the environmental studies program, is representing the student body in his role as general councillor on the Grenfell College Student Union.

But when he’s not outside fighting for student rights or hiking through the backwoods as a member of Grenfell’s Outdoors Club, you’ll find Mr. Pye practising his swing in the Grenfell College gymnasium. The Trout River native has been playing badminton since Grade 5, and with any luck, may land himself a spot on the Newfoundland and Labrador team for the 2003 Canada Winter Games in New Brunswick.

While he learned the game at the age of 10, he didn’t consider playing competitively until a few years later.

“I picked it up recreationally because some of the older kids would play a lot and had a badminton club,” he said, adding that in a small community like Trout River, there aren’t many squash or tennis courts. Badminton was a sport that required few resources but resulted in maximum fun.

The amusement soon developed into technique and skill, however, and by his junior high school years, people were starting to recognize Mr. Pye’s name.

“By Grade 8, I started winning (tournaments), and it took off from there – and people noticed,” he said, adding that over the years he’s accumulated more medals and won more provincial championships in the under-14, -16 and -19 categories than he can count.

Goeffrey PyePhoto by Pamela Gill
Goeffrey Pye, a general councillor on the Grenfell College Student Union, participated in a demonstration against student debt last week. His role as a councillor falls into an already busy slate of activities, including studying, playing badminton and participating in trips organized by Grenfell’s Outdoor Club.

Since arriving at Grenfell, he’s had to juggle an impressive timetable filled with courses, Outdoor Club excursions and Grenfell College Student Union meetings and activities. It’s no surprise then that he hasn’t been able to spend as much time on his game as he’d like.

Still, just before Christmas, he attended a Canada Games badminton training camp in St. John’s in the hopes that he’ll qualify for the 2003 games. Hopeful athletes are required to attend a number of camps and compete in various tournaments before a decision is made by a committee of Badminton Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial governing body. The tournaments in which Mr. Pye plays will also be taken into account. Over the past four years since the 1999 Canada Winter Games in Corner Brook, the list of candidates has gradually been narrowed, and now Mr. Pye has just one more camp this summer before the final decision is made.

“The Canada Games is probably my main goal (with respect to badminton),” he said, noting that when he graduates from Grenfell College, he hopes to attend law school, or perhaps start his own adventure tourism business in Gros Morne National Park. And whether or not he’s fortunate enough to make the Games team, he’ll always play badminton recreationally.

“Ultimately, I play badminton because it’s a lot of fun,” Mr. Pye says. “I like the people associated with it – they’re a good group of people.”