Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lawrence Invitational Badminton Tourney

When it comes to pure fun and relaxation, Labor Day is my favorite official holiday of the year. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that Gen Con is the best holiday of the year, but for some reason the Federal government won’t recognize it, which makes Labor Day the winner. Anyways, why Labor Day you ask? Well, let me tell you…

The legend begins way back in the dark ages of 1988 (I was 5 years old) when my Uncle Jim & Aunt Theresa hosted a Labor Day party.  They were sitting around eating & drinking, thinking about something to do, and decided to get a badminton set out and play a tournament. They made a trophy consisting of two beer cans screwed to the top of a 2x4 about 8 inches long and gave it to the inaugural winners my Uncles Jim & Tony. Everyone had such a fun time that they decided to do it again next year and the year after and it has been continuing ever since.

Picture of Original Trophy

The trophy itself has grown and changed over the years. Originally the charge of the champions was to improve the trophy ever year and bring it back for the next champions. The original trophy gained a banner, a second level, some birdies, and was quite a sight. Predicting that eventually my younger brother would win the trophy as a 12 year old, Jim knew my mom wouldn’t like beer cans in his room, so Tony went dumpster diving behind a trophy shop and put together a 3 foot tall Frankenstein monster of a trophy in the mid-90s, which continues to travel today.  Here is a picture of it in its current state. It had to be taken to a trophy shop for repair in 2014 as all the travelling had caused snapping of the flags and breaking of the posts.

Trophy as it is now.

The Lawrence Invitational Badminton tournament in 2014 marked the 27th time that Lawrence family members and friends converged on court. There are usually between 8 and 16 teams that play in the double-elimination tournament. There are two courts set up for play and players ranging from ages 8 years old to late 50s. I’ve now played in 17 different tournaments, my first one was 20 years ago, missing three years while in college. My first year I played with my aunt’s brother, then a couple years with my cousin Scott, then in 1998 began playing with my best friend Ryan. We’ve been playing together ever since. In our 14 years playing together we’ve made it to the championship every time, losing twice, the most humiliating loss coming to my brother and my cousin Scott (yes, my former partner and yes they beat us twice in a row from the losers bracket). Ryan and I have yelled at each other, hit each other with a racket (sometimes it is necessary to give your body to the game), come back from the loser bracket, played in the mud & rain, sweated and bled for the game, and generally took a whole lot of heckling from the Mark & Mark team.

Ryan & I in 2008. I couldn't find earlier pictures though I know they exist.

I think the reason that Labor Day is so fun for me is the competition. I love competition and tournaments. Basketball tournaments, Netrunner tournaments, badminton tournaments, rock/paper/scissors tournaments, it doesn’t matter. Just give me a tournament. This one is fun for all the trash talking that goes on throughout the year and during the day. The jokes cracked at everyone’s expense, the rooting for the underdog , watching a good volley while enjoying a burger and snacking on the ridiculous amount of dessert that is always there, and ending the summer in the camaraderie of competition and food. It is awesome that my aunt and uncle still host this, though they’ve stopped playing in the tournament quite a while ago, yet are now watching the 3rd generation of players beginning to pick up the rackets and smack the birds.

Ryan & I in 2014

So never plan on me attending your Labor Day cookout or going camping over that weekend or taking a trip to see a natural wonder, because it ain’t gonna happen. I’m playing badminton.

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