UNB Saint John Athletics
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Varsity Badminton returns to UNB Saint John

Author: J. Fleck

Posted on Jun 26, 2023

Category: Varsity Sports , ACAA

One of the most decorated sports in the history of the University of New Brunswick (UNB) Saint John Seawolves is set to make its return to the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) circuit in the 2023-24 season.

 BadmintonPictured above, L to R: Natasha Kelly (Director of Athletics), Matt Nicolle (Heach Coach), Bob Bonnell (Former Director of Athletics), Diane MacLeod (Assistant Coach).

At the opening ceremonies for the East Coast Games on June 24, UNB announced that the team would return to action for the first time since 2007.

“Varsity badminton has a rich history here at UNB Saint John and I know how much it meant to the campus and the badminton community. Bringing the sport to a new generation of athletes with participation from our program Alumni is incredibly meaningful and I’m proud that our institution is contributing to sport growth within the ACAA.”  - Natasha Kelly (Director of Athletics)

Badminton was played at UNB Saint John as early as 1976, with the team beginning ACAA play in the 1995-96 season and ending following the 2006-07 season.


The team had a very successful two-decade run in the ACAA, amassing a plethora of accolades:

  • Four ACAA Championships (’95-96, ’97-98, ’98-99, ’99-00).
  • 11 ACAA All-Conference nods.
  • One ACAA Player of the Year (Jing Bing Lam 2006-07).
  • Four ACAA Coach of the Years (Richard Johnson [’95-96 and ’97-98] and Britt MacLeod [’96-97 and ’98-99]).
  • Two Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association bronze medals (Jen Fox in 1999-00 and Ron Davis in 2000-01), the only medals at the CCAA level in Seawolves history.


The team will be coached by Matt Nicolle, who played for the team from 1999-2003. He was part of one ACAA Championship team, was a two-time team captain and team MVP and won the men’s single title and doubles once during his tenure with the Seawolves.

An adjunct professor at UNB Saint John as well as Commercial Sales Director for a US-Based IoT Technology Company. Nicolle bumped into David Munro, the Seawolves former Director of Athletics and avid badminton player. They got to talking about the lack of a badminton program and how to get it reignited. Munro suggested Nicolle speak with Kelly, and they got the ball rolling on bringing back the team.

“Matt Nicolle brings passion and enthusiasm,” said Munro. “He was a great competitor during his playing at UNB Saint John and a good team player who enjoyed the experience of playing Badminton while going to university. It is terrific to see that a new group of high-level players will have the opportunity to compete for UNB Saint John in the ACAA.”


Nicolle has enlisted local badminton talent to join the coaching team or provide additional support. Diane MacLeod, the Zone 4 (St. Stephen to Sussex area) director for Badminton New Brunswick, MacLeod will be the primary assistant coach for the team. Luke Couture, a former nationally ranked player, will also work with the team as their “technical advisor”. He owns and operates Zenith Health and Performance, a wellness and fitness service, and works with a handful of teams on the Saint John campus with their strength and conditioning.

Badminton has been played recreationally on the Saint John campus since 2007. Ryan Zevenbergen was the Badminton Campus Recreation student representative last year. He is looking forward to the reinstatement of the team and trying out for the team.

“I was amazed at the immediate success of the badminton club in bringing out students to share a common interest and get active, and I look forward to running it again in the fall of 2023,” he said.

“Looking forward, a varsity team will help establish the Seawolves as a competitor in this space just as they were many years ago. You can count on me trying out for the team, and I encourage anyone who is keen to show off their skills and represent UNBSJ to try out as well. Together we can re-establish the school's footprint in competitive badminton and bring home some banners to fly high in our gym.”

The badminton team is set to open the season on the road November 11 at a tournament at the Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia.