Interview with Para-badminton National Coach, Frank Gaudet
June 15, 2021
June is National Indigenous History Month, a time to learn about and honour the culture, history and strength of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people in Canada
This month Badminton Canada will be celebrating a few individuals for their accomplishments in fostering belonging, provided opportunities for the pursuit of excellence, and connecting Indigenous communities through sport.
Our first interview is with Badminton Canada Para National Team Coach and Saskatchewan Badminton Association Executive Director, Frank Gaudet. Frank is a Métis from Saskatchewan with an extensive involvement in badminton over the years.
Badminton Canada (BC): Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in the hospital in Cudworth Saskatchewan, and I grew up in Bellevue Saskatchewan, a small hamlet about 45 miles South of Prince Albert.
BC: How did you get started in badminton?
I started playing badminton in school, and after high school I continued to play casually and then I really got back into badminton 30 years ago. My daughter Laurie p- Anne started playing and that's when I started to get my coaching levels.
BC: We understand you’ve been involved with badminton for over 40 years. What programs have you been involved with?
Throughout the years, I have been involved with coaching as Provincial coach and High Performance coach for Saskatchewan Badminton Association and coaching and co-ordinator for the Saskatchewan Winter Games since 1998 and also with the Canada Winter Games since 1999. I have been going to Aboriginal communities in Saskatchewan for the last 20 years doing badminton clinics and also coaching clinics. I am a Learning Facilitator and deliver Regional and Provincial level coaching courses. We also held the National Aboriginal Badminton Championship for 2 years; I am also proud to have been co-ordinator for the North American Indigenous Games since 2006 and also for the Tony Cote First Nations Winter Games held every 2 years. In 2019, leading the team making history at the Pan American games in Lima, Peru as this was the first time badminton was included in the Pan American Games where we won a total of five medals (one gold, one silver, three bronze). I was also President of the SBA for several years before becoming the Executive Director for the SBA in 2004 and as an association we hosted various tournaments with the most prestigious being the Canadian Open in 2007.
BC: What can you tell us about the Cross Court Badminton Club?
It was always a dream of ours to own a badminton facility, we used to operate within the Regina Court and Fitness club and about 7 years ago the facility changed hands and badminton had to relocate. We used school gyms until we could find a facility fit for badminton. Four years ago, we found a location and CrossCourt Badminton Club was formed. We have 4 mat courts and also Pickleball and Table Tennis. Pre covid we had 160 juniors taking lessons and also adults playing in different leagues. We do not offer memberships; everything is either drop in or court rental.
BC: You are coaching Para National Team member, Wyatt Lightfoot, as well as serving in your position as Para National Team Coach. How has this experience been and what are your hopes for para badminton in Canada going forward?
I am proud to be the National Team Coach and proud to have Wyatt Lightfoot from our club as a member of the Para team. I have been coaching Para badminton since 2016 and it has been a great experience. We have 9 members on the team, and they work so hard to achieve their goals. Every year we get a few more players attending our Para Nationals. At the present we don't have any Para tournaments except for our Nationals. Our national team members are spread across Canada from New Brunswick to Vancouver, so it is very difficult for us to have training camps. Our Provincial Associations need to promote the awareness of Para badminton so that we can have a bigger pool of players. We are getting very good results internationally and that is very encouraging since we have only been competing since 2017.
Badminton Canada acknowledges the injustice and multigenerational trauma imposed on the original Peoples of this land through Canada’s history of colonization, once again brought into sharp focus with the recent discovery of 215 children buried, unmarked, on the site of the Kamloops residential school in BC. Our thoughts are with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and all Indigenous People who have suffered immeasurable trauma and loss.
We recognize the need to understand and eliminate all barriers to inclusion and full participation in our sport and initiated the Gender Equity, Inclusion & Safe Sport Committee in 2019 to ensure this remains a priority. We are currently working on several new initiatives, such as an Indigenous Long-Term Participant Development Pathway Project, to ensure the principles of equal opportunity, inclusion, and safe sport for all are incorporated into all strategies, plans and actions of Badminton Canada.