A Victoria teen will be making her way to Fort St. John on Wednesday night with nine other badminton teammates to compete in the 2020 BC Winter Games.
Alexia Sogai, 13, said she’s looking forward to competing in B.C.’s biennial celebration of sports. Over 1,000 youths will take part in the BC Winter Games, which take place between Feb. 20 and 23 and include everything from archery and badminton to speed skating and skiing.
“I’m very excited and also a little nervous,” Sogai said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Sogai has been playing badminton for about four years and trains three to four days a week. She also plays volleyball twice a week and other school sports while achieving top marks in her class.
She said she has enjoyed badminton for many years.
“I used to play outside with my grandpa and we just had a piece of string tied in a line as our net,” Sogai said. “I’ve always liked it since a young age.”
One of Sogai’s coaches, Mary-Jo Randall, will be heading to the BC Winter Games as a provincial advisor. She’ll be making sure the young athletes get everything they need while there.
Randall said Sogai’s strengths lie in her ability to move around the court, as well as her overhead strength.
“She’s long and lean and in badminton you need to be long and lean to move around the court,” Randall said. “She has a lot of overhead strength, she can hit hard. In singles you need a lot of power and a lot of grace and she has a lot of power and a lot of grace.”
Sogai will be playing singles but could end up playing doubles and mixed doubles as well. Her mom, Jessica, will be heading over to support Sogai as she competes in the games. She said they bought warm winter clothes to prepare for winter in Fort St. John and noted how excited they are to possibly see the northern lights as well.
“It’s exciting to see she qualified and I just want to be here to support her in whatever she wants to do and hope she does well,” Jessica said.
The BC Winter Games are also an opportunity for athletes to make new friends.
“The whole thing, the camaraderie, the fact that there’s 17 or 20 other sports going is great,” Randall said.
“You get to have meals with everyone, take buses everywhere, they might go out and have a snowball fight in between and loudly cheer for their team…it’s a beautiful experience.”