Birdie bashing duo bracing for Alberta Games
Badminton: Cheryl Griep and Shirley Pocock team up for 55-plus tournament
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013 06:00 am
Two Okotoks moms are about to be thrust into the spotlight of Alberta’s racquet sport elite.
Okotokians Cheryl Griep and Shirley Pocock are teaming up for a shot at provincial bragging rights this week. The pair will be competing in women’s doubles badminton at the 55-plus Alberta Winter Games, being held Feb. 13 to 16 in Calgary.
The partnership formed in the fall when the twosome were put together because they were the only members of the Edison Badminton Centre’s Ladies League who were eligible for the 55-plus Games.
“At the ladies league you mix it up and play together sometimes and against each other,” Griep said. “And a couple of days before the trials somebody mentioned it to us and we said we’re the only two eligible to play 55-plus so we went out and tried.”
The newly formed duo teamed up to win the Zone 2 trials held in Cochrane in November, an achievement not everyone was expecting.
“We just went into the trials at the last minute and didn’t really expect to get through to be honest,” said Pocock, a badminton player for four years. “We’re not sure what the level of competition is going to be, but we’re hoping to do okay. We’ve been practicing quite a bit and getting some extra coaching.”
Under the tutelage of Edison Badminton Centre head coach Billy Gilliland, a former number-one ranked mixed doubles player and 1986 Commonwealth gold medallist, the relative newcomers to the sport have picked up some valuable tricks of the trade.
“(Friday) he was watching us play and really getting us to focus on who we were playing against and what their strengths and weaknesses were,” Pocock said. “That you need to really assess the opposition quickly in the first game and then try and adapt and make a plan for the game.”
The pair enjoy several weekly sessions at the badminton centre’s ladies morning league featuring
skill-specific drills and exhibition matches. Through three months of training sessions as a doubles unit the team chemistry is improving quicker than the trajectory of a smashed birdie.
“It’s getting a lot better,” said Pocock, a mother of three. “Cheryl can be quite a hard player at the back and I tend to be more of a dropper and mix up the pace of the shots.”
The Alberta Games won’t be a complete change of pace for Griep as she competed as a youth in the Summer Games in canoeing.
Tackling the best in the province in her age group in the racquet sport will certainly be new ground for the Okotokian.
“I’m getting excited and nervous,” Griep said. “It’s a pretty big thing with all of Alberta coming to compete and I haven’t done much of this.”
Griep, a hockey mom for several years to sons Tyler Hilbert, Kyle Griep and current Okotoks Bisons’ defenceman Dylan Griep, is getting a kick out of the current role reversal.
“I feel very lucky to be able to play badminton during the day,” she said. “My kids came and watched me play at a tournament we had at Edison and it was a very nice feeling to have them come out and support me, all three of them and my husband (David).”
The 55-plus Alberta Winter Games will be held at the Calgary Winter Club and Canada Olympic Park from Feb. 13 to 16. The men’s and women’s doubles badminton division begin competition on Feb. 14. at 8 a.m. at the Calgary Winter Club.
The foothills will be well represented on the ice and on the slopes as well. Twenty-four athletes from Okotoks and 37 from the foothills will be competing in Calgary in such events as cross-country and alpine skiing, curling and hockey.
For full results and schedule information go to www.albertagames.com