Knight Hawks head may take flight over changed schedules
The head of a local badminton club says he may resign if the group is unable to secure better time schedules for practices.
Bracebridge Knight Hawks president Warren Brownlee says the youth badminton club was informed by the Trillium Lakelands District School Board last month that it has lost its Monday and Thursday time slots at two Bracebridge public schools. Brownlee said he was unaware that the time slots needed to be booked with the public school board on a first-come, first-served basis in June.
The group did succeed with keeping its Tuesday time slot with St. Dominic Catholic Secondary School, but the scheduling oversight meant the Knight Hawks were only able to secure a Friday time slot.
“I’m resigning as president of the Knight Hawks over this,” he said. “I’m an older guy and I’m retired.”
Traditionally, the group had practice sessions at Monck Public School on Mondays and at Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School on Thursdays. Brownlee called those slots “prime times” for sporting groups.
“Friday is not a good time, I’ve already had a lot of people say they can’t come on Friday, that they can’t bring their kids on Friday,” he said. “Monday through Thursdays are when you can actually draw in kids.”
He said times from Monday to Thursday have also been filled at St. Dominic school. He’s also unsure how the scheduling change will affect registration for the upcoming year, which takes place tonight at Monck Public School from 6 to 8 p.m.
“Since 2004 at least, when the Knight Hawks started, we’ve had Monday nights and Thursday nights, and all of a sudden we don’t have those nights,” he said. “We’re going to lose all kinds of members because of that.”
Brownlee said that among public schools in town, only Bracebridge Public School, Monck Public School and Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School have the space to accommodate the badminton program. The club has been allotted “zero hours” in those schools for the upcoming year.
“You need a minimum of three courts, you have to be able to accommodate the kids, you have to be able to get enough (kids) in there so they enjoy playing each other and have fun,” he said. “(At) Monsignor Michael O’Leary the ceiling is really low, you couldn’t use it. Macaulay doesn’t even have lines on the floor.”
Brownlee said the club is hopeful other options will step up to give the program better practice times.
“I want to see if there’s any other organizations around,” he said.
Though he said badminton doesn’t have the same high profile in Bracebridge as other sports like soccer or hockey, Brownlee said the Knight Hawks club has enjoyed much growth over the years and has given young athletes many award-winning opportunities.
Though the club itself does not compete in school competitions, players from the Knight Hawks have applied the skills they learned there while playing for their school teams in provincial-level competitions.
“We have been instrumental in establishing junior programs in Gravenhurst and Huntsville with the hope of making local play more competitive and fun,” he said. “Last year we hosted our first tri-town elementary tournament.”
Brownlee hopes that going forward, a committee can be formed with other organizations that use public school facilities, so that sports like badminton with specific facility requirements can be accommodated when time slots are scheduled.
“We’re sort of like a minority, we need protection and we didn’t get it,” he said.