For this duo, practice is golden
WARRENTON — Sears Bugg and John Metzger came to badminton by different routes, but they each ended up with a gold medal in different age groups at the recent N.C. Senior Games.
They practice twice a week in the gym at the former John Graham School.
“I’ve had a long-standing relationship with John Graham gym, since I was in the fourth grade,” Bugg said.
The floor and bleachers are original, according to Bugg. The gym has no air-conditioning, which meant Bugg and Metzger were accustomed to the heat they encountered during the Senior Games. There are no windows, which cuts down on glare and makes the lighting better for badminton, he added.
Bugg also attended Marian Boyd School and Macon Junior High School before leaving home to attend Christchurch School in Virginia.
He earned a bachelor’s degree at N.C. State University and a master’s at Duke University. He ran the family-owned truck line for 25 years and is now a fee-only financial planner. He is married to Michelle with one son.
Metzger grew up in Indianapolis, Ind., and attended Ball State University. He served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He worked for Vance County Schools for 20 years, including four as JROTC instructor and five as athletics director. He and his wife, Jeanette, live in Vance County.
The Metzgers have three daughters and one son. All are teachers except one, Jill, who is a major in the Air Force. She was the subject of major news stories seven years ago, when she was kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan and held for three days before escaping.
Skepticism about her story caused her to be investigated and put her career on hold. Metzger said she has since been cleared, reinstated and given a commendation.
Bugg began playing badminton with his brother in his backyard while he was growing up.
“Our mother taught us,” he said.
At N.C. State, he took badminton as a physical education course.
“That’s what revived my interest,” Bugg said.
He became president of the badminton club at State and, later, was the number one player in the Duke University badminton club.
But business responsibilities interfered, bringing on a 28-year hiatus in his badminton career.
Five years ago he took up the sport again, inspired, he said, by reports on the Senior Games.
Metzger said he played “every sport there was” at Ball State University. “Every sport” except badminton, that is.
He has played racquetball and squash, and was the Air Force handball champion.
He began playing badminton two years ago, when Bugg recruited him as a practice partner. The transition came naturally, Metzger said.
“If you play one, you can adapt to all,” Metzger said.
Badminton is “less forgiving” than other court games, he said. In the others, the ball keeps bouncing. Not so in badminton.
Their practice sessions led to competition in local and then state-level Senior Games.
The Games were established in 1983 to give men and women, 55 years of age and up, a chance to compete in athletic events.
Last month in Cary, Bugg, who is 59, placed first in men’s singles for the 55-59 age category. Metzger, 70, placed first in the 70-74 age category.
They are undecided about competing in the National Senior Games. But they each have a medallion on a ribbon to hang around the neck or place alongside other keepsakes.
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