Poirier keeps her eyes on the prize



Don’t tell Serenity Poirier that streaks are there to be ended.

The 12th grader at Lac du Bonnet Senior School didn’t lose a set in her high school badminton career and Poirier is determined to graduate with her impeccable record intact. To do that, Poirier must end her high school career with a strong showing at this week’s MHSAA’s Provincial Badminton Championships at Prairie Badminton Club (May 5-7).

The junior varsity competitors begin on Thursday, while the varsity action begins on Friday.

“I know I’m one of the better athletes that will be out there. If someone isn’t that good of an athlete, I try to bond with them and get them moving. Because you know, for others to get better, it helps to play against tougher competition,” said Poirier free press by phone on Wednesday.

“So I try to be nice, but at the same time I make them work a little bit so they can improve their skills. I always make sure that I don’t lose first, of course, but I don’t know, I also like to help other people.”

Poirier is a formidable athlete all round, having managed the Lac du Bonnet varsity basketball and volleyball teams, but badminton is her greatest passion. She started out in 5th grade at a local club in town, but to take her game to the next level, she drives nearly 90 minutes to Winnipeg several times a week for extra practice.

“It’s the badminton family I’ve had over the years. Not having played with COVID just made me miss it more and I was dying to get back into training and keep playing,” said Poirier.

“I like the community and all the people I’ve met. It’s just a fun sport and I really like the logical part of badminton. You have to think about what shot you want to hit and what you want to do with every single rally.”

Arguably no one in the badminton community knows Poirier better than her coach, Dale Kinley, having worked together for six years. Poirier used to travel to Stonewall to train with Kinley but now she goes to Winnipeg as the coach works at Prairie Badminton Club on De Baets Street.

“There’s more than just her that made the journey from (Lac du Bonnet), but she’s one that really stuck with it,” Kinley said. “Especially in Manitoba, there aren’t many who would do that for badminton. You hear all the time people do that for hockey and things like that, but in my experience there aren’t that many who have made that kind of journey for badminton.

The trips have paid off as Poirier and his mixed doubles partner Victor Ho of St. John’s-Ravenscourt School were recently among the top five mixed doubles teams in Canada. Poirier mainly plays doubles, but this week she’s focusing on singles.

“There aren’t too many players who play at their level,” Kinley said.

“…Years of practice was a big deal, but just the comfort she has in her footwork, the way she moves, that takes a lot of practice. As much as others are good at it, she’s been doing it way longer than most, and that’s super important when you’re trying to play, especially in singles. If you don’t have that footwork, you trip a lot.”

The main thing that drives Poirier, who also excels in the classroom with an average of 90 percent or more in all her classes, is getting a spot on Manitoba’s badminton team at the 2023 Canada Games on Prince Edward Island. Stepping onto the national stage from a town of just over 1,000 people would be a dream come true.

“I feel like a lot of people don’t know anything about Lac du Bonnet or think we wouldn’t have good athletes. Of course I have to go in for practice so the Winnipeg kids have a bigger advantage, so I think it’s really cool that a small town guy can come in and win,” Poirier said.

The next Canada Games tryout is this summer, but Poirier isn’t overlooking this week’s provincials. She still has room in the trophy case despite becoming the triple crown champion (under-19 girls singles, girls doubles and mixed doubles) at the 2021 Manitoba Yonex Junior Provincial Championships last October. She won the high school provincials in the 9th grade but could not repeat because the last two MHSAA provincials were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For Poirier, the most important thing about this week isn’t keeping her streak alive, but winning the event for her father, Paul Poirier. Poirier credits her father for making those long car journeys possible, supporting her and teaching her a thing or two as a coach.

“It would mean a lot to me because my dad coaches me and he just had surgery and was in the hospital for a while so we weren’t sure if he would be able to train at all,” said Poirier. “So I think he really wants me to win and I think it would be a really nice thing for me if I win… I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without him.”

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen
reporter

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor joined the Free Press on June 1, 2011.

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