Due to a long history of sexism in sports, women’s athletics aren’t usually given the credit they deserve. Sports have been male-dominated for over a century, but there have been recent initiatives to help change this.
Over the past few weeks the introduction of the three-on-three women’s competition during the National Hockey League All-Star weekend or greater appreciation and focus for competitive women’s national teams such as the past World Cup victory by the United States soccer and continued success by Canadian Hockey teams in the Olympics. With the increased wages in the Women’s National Basketball Association having just been announced in January 2020, we are slowly making progress in climbing to equal pay in comparison to male major league sports counterparts. The WNBA announcement comes at no better time as Feb. 6 marks U Sports’ celebration of 100 years of women’s Canadian Interuniversity Sports basketball.
On Feb. 6, 1920, the Queen’s Gael’s and the McGill Martlets played the first women’s varsity basketball game. With that U Sports has decided, starting on Feb. 6, to list off the top 100 players in the history of Canadian collegiate basketball with decisions being made by a panel of women’s basketball coaches and partners.
With this upcoming anniversary in mind, the Silhouette looked back at a few of the most successful and dominant players in the program’s recent history.
Hilary Hanaka was the leader of last year’s national championship team in. The five-year star played from 2014-2019 at McMaster, has a filled-to-the-brim stats sheet and a fully stocked trophy wall. Having won a national championship and a, Critelli Cup trophy, Hanaka also made the OUA All-Rookie team, was a two year Ontario University Athletics All-Star and an All-Canadian player. By the time she graduated there wasn’t much left for Hanaka to accomplish. Her individual accomplishments include the Sylvia Sweeney Award, the national award for academic/athletic excellence from U Sports and service to the community, and the Joy Bellinger Award presented by the OUA to a student-athlete who excels in academics, athletics and community service.
Hanaka had a great impact on the court, in the classroom and in the community. Having broken McMaster’s ten year losing streak in the Critelli Cup and bringing home the teams first ever national championship would be enough to be on the Marauders record books on its own. The addition of her off-the-court achievements is what makes her the first player to make our list.
The second player who comes to mind is Danielle Boiago, who should need no introduction. In the five years that she played for McMaster from 2012 to 2017, she dominated Burridge. Since the first day she stepped on the court as a Marauder, she was a dominant guard averaging 15.5 points a game combined with 53 steals, 46 assists and a total of 340 points in her first season. She was only getting started. Impressive is a word that does not live up to her presence on the court and her importance to the team, being the first player in program history to win the Nan Copp Award as women’s U Sports player of the year in 2017. This year she averaged 25.5 points a game and she became McMaster’s all-time leading scorer with 1,719 points, which gives a better idea of her prowess. This is among the awards she gathered in addition to the four time All-Star and an All-Rookie team nod in the OUA.
After accepting a contract to play professional basketball in the Netherlands, Boiago played ten games for Holland’s Royal Eagles and averaged a staggering 16 points per game. She eventually returned to the Marauders as an assistant coach. She has given to the team on and off the court, but also for her country. She played five games on Team Canada in the 2018 CommonWealth Games, where they lost in the bronze medal game to New Zealand and finished fourth in the tournament overall.
The third player which led the Marauders in recent history is Chiarra Rocca. Now inducted into the McMaster Athletics Hall of Fame, she played from 2004-2008 while racking in a mountain of achievements. She led the team to win two OUA championships in 2007 and 2008 and a CIS bronze in 2008, secured in part by her defensive prowess and soft touch shot. She was an all-star from the moment she dressed up in maroon and grey, as she made the OUA All-Star team in her first season as well as the CIS All-Rookie-team and was also lauded by the province, earning the OUA rookie of the year award. Later in her career, she made the OUA all-star team three more times, making her an OUA all-star in every season she played. As mentioned, she was quite the defensive force. This won her the OUA and CIS defensive player of the year in 2006 along with the team MVP. When she graduated she was the all-time leader for rebounds in the OUA at 760 total, a title which she still holds today.
As we look back at 100 years of women’s basketball we also look back at the greatness that has walked the halls of DBAC and occupied Burridge gym. The women’s basketball team has had many prominent players dress in maroon and grey and there are probably many more to come. Here’s to appreciating the women in sports who fight for equality and recognition. McMaster has had their fair share and all of them should get the recognition they deserve.
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