ACAC Class of 2017: Karyn and Keith Kadonaga

ACAC Class of 2017: Karyn and Keith Kadonaga

by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips

In celebration of its 50th season of competition, the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) held its inaugural ACAC Hall of Fame selection and ceremony in 2014 with induction of 50 individuals within the categories of builders and administrators, coaches and student-athletes.

In this the second installment, a total of eight inductees will be named with a Class of 2017 ceremony scheduled for May 13, 2017 in Calgary, Alberta.

Below is the second of eight inductee profiles.

Athlete Category

Karyn and Keith Kadonaga, SAIT Trojans, Badminton

They hold the distinction of being the only student/athletes to be ever named SAIT Trojans Male and Female Athletes of the Year in the same back-to-back years, in this case 1993-1994 and 1994-1995.

They were also back-to-back Alberta Colleges Alberta Conference (ACAC) All Conference and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) All Canadian selections in 1993-1994 and 1994-1995 while combining talents to win back-to-back ACAC and CCAA badminton mixed doubles gold.

They now become the first male and female to be inducted together into the ACAC Hall of Fame Class of 2017 in the Athlete Category.

Say hello to brother and sister Keith and Karyn Kadonaga.

Of the selection to the ACAC Hall of Fame, Keith replied: "Shocked and surprised. It has been over 20 years now and we really haven't thought much about it. Badminton is not one of the sports you would think to be recognized. There have been some amazing athletes from other sports that have also gone through and for us to be chosen is special and surprising."

Karyn echoed the surprise of being honoured: "It surprised me. It has been a long long time since I had been at SAIT and it made me fill proud. "

Keith's first post-secondary experience as a student/athlete, was with the Mount Royal Cougars (1991-1993) where he garnered ACAC All Conference status in 1992-1993 going on to claim silver at the nationals in men's singles with Brad Alton of Grant MacEwan Community College Griffins receiving gold.

For the 1993-1995 academic years Keith transferred to SAIT, where his sister had also enrolled.

"We were looking at different educational opportunities and we both found programs that we liked at SAIT," recalls Keith, 45, a product fulfillment specialist along with a cosmetic and fragrance formulator. "It was a really good experience because when we were competing in juniors, we never played together as we were different ages.

"It was nice to now compete together. Her skill set and level of play gave me confidence to compete… knowing that you have a partner that is able to compete at a high level. It was comforting."

Enrolled "to focus on the Dietary Technology program", Karyn, now a Grade 1 teacher in Vernon, British Columbia, said of her time at SAIT, "The ability to do your sport as well as to go to school was fantastic. The support we received was great and to be acknowledged (Athlete of the Year) amongst all of the athletes and teams that were there ,was incredible. To stop and acknowledge badminton was appreciated."

Their first CCAA Badminton Nationals gold medal in mixed doubles was in 1993-1994; defeating Vancouver Community College's Dhana Khan and Scott Young 15-6 and 15-8 in the finals held in Truro, Nova Scotia with Nova Scotia Agricultural College hosting.

For the 1994-1995 CCAA Nationals in Shawinigan, Quebec and hosted by College Shawinigan, the pair would meet up again with Khan and Scott, now under the Langara College title, by a score of 15-9, 18-13

"When we were little, our parents exposed us to different sports," recalled Keith, who still resides in his hometown of Calgary, Alberta. "When we were about nine (Keith) and 11 (Karyn), we started to gravitate towards badminton."

Playing on the Badminton Canada circuit, Karyn smashed her way to six national Junior titles in the Under 16 and Under 19 age groups within the women's singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles categories.

Keith's lone Junior title was in men's doubles Under 16.

Karyn would also represent Canada on the international stage, teaming up with Heather Ostrom for women's doubles at the 1992 World University championships held in Sweden.