Cambrian College Varsity Athletics have made a habit, in recent years, of welcoming new faces to their various sports teams, celebrating their new recruits at a media gathering, typically in June.
Earlier this month, the Golden Shield family did just that, all while also welcoming back a very familiar face.
The return of the highly successful badminton program highlighted the festivities at the gathering, with Jim Duff confirmed as the man who will look to guide the "birdie swatters" back to the successful status they enjoyed in years gone by.
The team was shelved following the 2015-2016 OCAA season and Duff knows that the journey back to the promised land must be paved with a million and one small steps. Understandably, expectations for 2019-2020 are somewhat limited.
"We haven't really talked about it in terms of specific numbers (of athletes), but more about quality," he said. "If we are able to field a team with five female and five male athletes, to me, that's a bonus."
"But if we can field a team and have everyone show improvement, and we have the possibility of sending one or two, maybe three of those athletes to provincials, to me, that's an accomplishment."
Having worked closely with the Sudbury Junior Badminton Club in recent years, Duff is aware of the value of a local feeder system, even if he downplays the extent to which he might, personally, be able to attract prospective student athletes to Cambrian College.
"I am one of the only coaches in Sudbury who can coach at the OBA junior provincial level, but I don't think they come out because of me," he said. "I think they see coaches that are really committed, and we've still got some exciting young coaches there next year."
(Sudbury Jr Badminton head coach) "Troy (Brushett) still has a lot of help."
After hosting the 2019 OCAA Women's Volleyball Championships in Sudbury with a very young team, coach Dale Beausoleil is excited to be adding another influx of talent to his roster, introducing a quartet of young women to the assembled crowd on hand.
Sarah Ramage (Guelph - Pre-Health Sciences), Katie Albert (Elliot Lake - transfer from Canadore - Medical Radiation Technology), Hailey Selk (Sudbury - Collège Notre-Dame - Social Service Worker) and Jordan Phillips (Barrie - Paramedic program) will join a squad looking to effectuate a bump in the standings, improving on their 4-16 record from 2018-2019.
"I have played a little bit of middle, but I expect to play left side this year," suggested Phillips, a veteran of the OVA (Ontario Volleyball Association) club circuit with stops with both the Barrie Elites and Orillia Suns.
"I most need to work on my defence," she continued. "I think everyone can work on their defence and always get better as a player, but I think that Dale can really help me get to that next level."
Though she cited the lure of the paramedic program for her decision to head north - "it's one of the best programs, and one of the few that allows you to go right into flight paramedics with Orange" - Phillips also noted the motivation to continue her volleyball career at a post-secondary level, a goal that she has prepared for in recent years.
"I talked to a lot of my coaches throughout the years, just to see how I should better prepare myself, how I should be training, to get me ready for post-secondary volleyball," she said.
In addition to also highlighting six new soccer recruits to Cambrian, Manager - Athletics Tim Yu also announced that Jeffrey Paul would be taking over the Shield cross-country program, with former coach Eric Leishman contemplating some interesting options at his disposal.
Soccer recruits (which will be the subject of a separate story) included Aisha Warren (Ajax - Pre-Health Sciences), Leigh Hayward (Acton - Pre-Health Sciences), Quinn Eggleton (New Lowell - Physical Fitness Management) and Kasia Brufatto (Alliston - Business Administration) on the women's side, and locals Keenan Rocca (Collège Notre-Dame - Civil Engineering) and Andrew Prince (Lo-Ellen - Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training) for the men's team.