Ahmed Shamiya received the Ontario Coaching Excellence Award for his positive impact on McMaster’s wrestling program

Former student athlete turned coach Ahmed Shamiya was recently presented with the Ontario Coaching Excellence Award by the Coaches Association of Ontario. 

The award recognizes coaches for their impact on athletes, teams and communities. Whether by building inclusive environments or leading their teams to championships, the winners of the award have been shown to be outstanding, dedicated leaders. 

In a press release statement, Jeremy Cross, executive director for the Coaches Association of Ontario, praised Shamiya’s contributions to McMaster University’s wrestling program.  

“We are thrilled to recognize Ahmed [Shamiya] for his dedication and support of athlete development on and off the playing field. Community volunteerism will play a vital role as we continue to recover from the pandemic and coaches like Ahmed are leaders in creating safe, fun and positive spaces for youth to grow as athletes and leaders,” explained Cross. 

"Community volunteerism will play a vital role as we continue to recover from the pandemic and coaches like Ahmed are leaders in creating safe, fun and positive spaces for youth to grow as athletes and leaders,”

Jeremy Cross, Executive Director of ther Coaches Association of Ontario

Shamiya is one of 10 total recipients to receive the award along with fellow Marauder Larissa Byckalo, assistant coach for the women’s volleyball team. In addition to the honours, coaches also received a $500 reimbursement provided by Hydro One to put towards funding for the team.  

Such honours are a part of National Coaches Week, a campaign running from Sep. 17 to Sep. 25 to celebrate coaches across Canada.  

Shamiya was grateful to receive the award for his efforts within the wrestling program and the overall athletics community at McMaster.  

“I love coaching and I love working with athletes on a daily basis. I do this out of love for the support of wrestling but along the way it’s also nice to be recognized for some of the work,” said Shamiya.  

Before his coaching tenure, Shamiya also had received several awards during his time as a McMaster student. 

In his rookie year on the wrestling team, in 2013, Shamiya took home the gold medal after competing in the OUA championship final. His efforts in 2015 helped the Marauders to their first OUA men’s title since 1993.  

After playing under former head coach Nick Cipriano as an athlete, Shamiya assumed head coach duties for the program at the end of the 2019 season. Despite being the youngest head coach in the OUA circuit, Shamiya’s poise and dedication have helped to carry the team to excellence.  

In 2020, his first year as head coach, Shamiya led the men’s wrestling team to a silver medal at the OUA championships. For his efforts, he was also named the OUA Men’s Coach of the Year.  

More recently, Shamiya took both the men and women’s teams to second place finishes at the 2022 OUA finals, which included 10 podium placements by the Marauders. 

As their head coach, one of Shamiya’s biggest goals when working with athletes is to help them develop their mental performance in addition to improving their physical play. 

“Through coaching one thing I’ve learned, and one thing I’m trying to do with my athletes currently, is to try and get them to see themselves as more than they see themselves currently. . . because the only way that you’ll accomplish anything in life is if you believe that you’re the type of person who’s capable of achieving those things,” stated Shamiya.   

His history with the Marauders represents a landmark achievement in the university’s sporting community. With such a decorated background as both an athlete and coach, the future of McMaster’s wrestling team is bound to be bright with Shamiya at its helm. 

Photo C/O Maddie Brockbank

By: Abi Sudharshan

CW: Discussions of sexual violence


On March 7, the YWCA Hamilton hosted the 43rd annual Women of Distinction Awards dinner. These awards recognize the achievements of women in the Hamilton community. From business to education, the night celebrates exemplary leadership by women in an effort to inspire other women.

One of the most watched award categories is that of the “Young Woman of Distinction,” which celebrates a woman between 18 and 25 who has demonstrated passionate and committed stewardship of a cause in her school, community or workplace.

This year’s winner is fourth year McMaster social work student Maddie Brockbank.

Over the course of the last few years, Brockbank has spearheaded projects addressing the issue of sexual violence prevention, specifically by directing efforts to establish meaningful male allyship.

On March 15, the Silhouette sat down with Brockbank to discuss these initiatives.


Before we really get started, tell me a little about yourself. What things define you?

I would say that I am very hard working. I really value hard work and my parents have taught me to value it. I’m pretty passionate about the work that I do with sexual violence. I’m also pretty honest about my outlook on issues on campus.


When would you say you first became aware of sexual violence issues?  

I didn’t hear the word “consent” until I was in university. I went to a Catholic high school, and though I overheard troubling conversations in the halls, they were never addressed.


I’ve read about your work in broad terms, but am so curious about the specifics. How did this all begin and what exactly have you done?

There’s a bit of a story to it. In my second year of university, I applied for and received an undergraduate student research award in experiential education. Through that, I found out that women currently bear most of the weight in discussions regarding sexual violence, which does not at all reflect the situation. So, over that summer, I interviewed seven guys from a couple of different universities, and asked them questions about consent, sexual violence, and treatment of victims. I found that there were extremely large gaps in their knowledge.

It was concerning, but it was also promising as they all talked about how they had never been asked these questions before and how they had never thought about these conversations before. There was willingness on the other end and it became a matter of engaging them.


This isn’t the first time that your work as garnered recognition. Last year, you were awarded 1st Prize in the Clarke Prizes in Advocacy and Active Citizenship competition. Could you tell me a bit about that?

Yes, I did get the Clarke Prize grant in March of last year. Ryan Clarke is an alumni who donates $6,000 every year to fund initiatives addressing issues in the community. First prize wins $3,000, second wins $2,000 and third wins $1,000. Most campaigns that address sexual violence have a very general approach to them.

From my research, I found that young men wanted to join the conversation. So, I created an event to educate young men: Commit(men)t and Allyship. Although the event was independent, we did collaborate with individuals and organizations within the community, such as Meaghan Ross, the university’s sexual violence response coordinator, the Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and the McMaster Students Union Women and Gender Equity Network. McMaster Athletics had expressed interest, but they didn’t show up.

It was extremely disappointing. However, 10 Mohawk athletes did attend. Tristan Abbott, facilitator of the WiseGuyz program in Calgary, attended as well. We donated $2,700 to SACHA and the remaining funds from the Clarke grant to others like the male allies of Waterloo who facilitated our debriefing spaces.


How do you feel about the university’s current efforts to respond to the issue of sexual violence?

Well, the sexual assault policy at McMaster is relatively new, and thus yet to be evaluated in terms of efficacy. In general, however, universities need to address that there is a rape culture on campus and that it is a prevalent problem. There needs to be more support for survivors, to shift the response from interrogation to believing them. Perpetrators need to feel the consequences of their actions and need to be barred from positions of power within the Student Representative Assembly, MSU and other student governing bodies.


How does it feel being recognized for your work?

Surprising and really amazing. There were so many incredible candidates. I think it just speaks to the merit in the work that I’ve done. It’s affirmation that the work is important and needs to be done.


What’s next for Maddie Brockbank?

I am continuing my studies at McMaster in the Masters of Social Work for fall 2019. I am also continuing my research and doing my thesis on male student perspectives of sexual violence. I recently received the McMaster graduate scholarship as well, so I'm stoked!


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Photo C/O Maxine Gravina

When you are one of seven kids, there are not many activities that are easy for all seven kids to participate. For the Schnurr family, running was the one that worked.

At the age of seven years old, McMaster’s cross-country coach Paula Schnurr found herself in a running club for the first time. Joining the Burlington Running Club, Schnurr soon found out that she was actually quite good at the sport. Fast forward to university, and Schnurr got a spot on McMaster’s cross-country team.

“There's something about running that makes you feel good physically, mentally and emotionally, especially being a part of a team,” said Schnurr. “When I was at McMaster as a varsity athlete, I made lifelong friendships from being part of the team.”

C/O Rick Zazulak

Aside from the forever friends that running gave her, being able to continually challenge herself and the nature of competing is what Schnurr really fell in love with. Her competitive edge led her to make the national team and represent Canada at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics for the 1500m, as well as two World Championships. Schnurr went on to win a silver medal representing Canada at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

When her time as a runner came to an end, Schnurr turned to coaching. Starting her tenure with McMaster in 2009, her expertise has guided the Marauders to great success. Most recently, the men’s team found success in the 2018 cross-country season, coming in first at the Ontario University Athletics Championship, and third at the U Sports National Championship.

Her team’s triumphs led her to be named the OUA Men's Cross-Country Coach of the Year, making her the first woman to ever win the award, and McMaster’s second recipient of the award ever.

C/O Ian McAlpine

“I was very honoured because it is an award that the coaches vote on,” said Schnurr. “Winning that award is really a reflection of the kind of athletes that are on our team. Because, when your athletes are winning, it makes your coaching look good. So I’m honoured on how lucky we are and that we have a great group of student-athletes.”

The group of men and women she has the honour of coaching are a tight-knit group who often compare themselves to a family rather than a team. For Schnurr and her assistant coach Peter Self, who also happens to be her husband, they can not exactly pinpoint why the student-athletes who join their program all mesh so well together, but they are grateful for a team that enjoys being together on and off the track.

“I guess it's a bit of a reflection on the people that we are. We try to make good decisions on treating people well, and when athletes show up and work well, we're going to reward them by helping them be the best athlete they can be,” said Schnurr. “We feel good that athletes, whether they're winning championships or just making personal times, can walk away after their time here and reflect that they had a great experience while at Mac.”

Although some couples may find it difficult to work together, the two retired professional runners find balance in both their differences and their passion for running.

“I mean, we do disagree on certain things when issues come up, but we have a lot of respect for each other. Pete is very good at making suggestions on how we can change things for the better,” said Schnurr. “He pays attention to more of the details, and I'm more focused on the athletes and managing them. I'm the day-to-day person that they see and interact with, but he's the support.”

Winning such a high honour as Coach of the Year and coming in first provincially and third nationally, the thought of pressure would stay at the back of most people’s minds, but not for Schnurr.

“I don't feel a lot of pressure but I know the men put a lot of the pressure on themselves,” said Schnurr. “ Will there be a bit of pressure next year? Probably, because they are the OUA-defending Champions, but that's okay because the pressure is what makes athletes better.”

Instead of worrying too much about next year, Schnurr and the team’s next focus is the 2019 indoor track season. Unlike the outdoor track season, team goals begin to shift to individual goals. Whether it's running a certain time or making nationals, the men’s team again have top contenders for doing well this season.

“Our women’s team is still young and developing, but it's the men who are looking towards making nationals, as well as our relay teams,” said Schnurr.

Using invitationals like the Don Wright Team Challenge that took place at the Western University this past weekend, and competitions in Michigan and Boston to compete against some of the top American runners, the Marauders are doing whatever it takes to stay sharp. This way, by the end of February for the OUA Championship, and the second week of March for the U Sports National Championships, they will be ready to hit the podium once again.


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What began on the McMaster campus has developed into an international protocol for evidence-based medicine, an approach piloted by professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics Gordon Guyatt. Awarded a position in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame for his work, Guyatt’s influence has spread throughout the western world.

“Throughout North America and Europe, bodies that accredit medical schools and training programs for physicians after they finish medical school have all adopted evidence-based medicine [into their curriculum],” said Guyatt, who sustains that evidence-based medicine bridges empirical data with clinical treatment.

“Evidence-based medicine has to do with being aware of the best available evidence… and being able to put that best evidence in the context of people’s values, preferences and circumstances relevant to choices that patients have to make,” he explained.

Currently more than 90 organizations worldwide abide by the policies and values of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation, a system developed by Guyatt in what was a collaborative effort. GRADE became the epicenter of a cultural shift that has taken place over the last 20 years towards a formal clinical process in patient treatment. GRADE encourages physicians to adhere to guidelines that implement ideals that mesh well with evidence-based medicine. It has allowed for a system where evidence is appropriated before it can be applied.

Guyatt attributes the genesis of the evidence-based method to the community at McMaster.

“This could only have happened within a unique cultural environment that exists [at McMaster]. McMaster is known worldwide as the place where evidence-based medicine got started,” said Guyatt.

Guyatt was the director of Residency Program in Internal Medicine at McMaster in 1990. It was here that he first implemented the term evidence-based medicine. Caught up in the environment of the then new medical school at McMaster, and under the mentorship of clinical epidemiologist Dave Saket, he was inspired to explore an unconventional approach to health care.

“When McMaster Medical School started it was a revolutionary idea of a medical school. There were no tests, no examinations. Everything was based on problem-based learning. There was a great innovative spirit where challenging existing norms and values was highly valued,” Guyatt said.

The British Medical Journal ranked evidence-based learning as seventh among the most important changes in medicine in the last 50 years. Other developments on the list included computers, public health and anesthesiology.

Guyatt’s induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of fame is another notch in a long history of recognition.

“For me personally it’s nice, but more importantly than for me personally, it’s a recognition of the importance of the way that evidence-based medicine has impacted the medical practice.”

When asked about the future of evidence-based medicine, Guyatt likened it to the metaphor of turning an ocean liner around.

“It takes time,” Guyatt acknowledged. “It’s been 24 years since the term was coined, and we have been pushing and pushing and pushing. Eventually, if you’re in the right time, place and cultural environment, things will change. The ocean liner is just halfway turned around, now we just need to keep pushing until it turns all the way.”

Photo Credit: Jeff Comber

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President Patrick Deane addresses students about the Renaissance Award alongside panelists. From left to right: Allison Sekuler (dean of graduate studies), Paul Grossman (director of major and planned giving), Glen Bandiera (alumnus and donor), Siobhan Stewart (MSU president), Carolyn Eyles (director of iSci), Jean Wilson (director of Arts & Science)

McMaster University has received funds from two former grads to establish a $25,000 award for students who want to take a detour from academia.

The university held an open information session yesterday on the Drs. Jolie Ringash and Glen Bandiera Renaissance Award, open to all McMaster students studying on a full-time basis.

The award offers a maximum of $25,000 to a student with an innovative idea for a project that will span 4 to 12 months.  The project must be outside of applicants’ academic activities and have a distinct societal benefit.

The same amount of money will be available in the same capacity each year for the next five years.

The donors, Ringash and Bandiera, funded the award in hopes that students could have an opportunity to expand their learning experience in an unconventional way.

“Both of us had a fairly standard trajectory from high school through our undergraduate experience,” said Bandiera.

“We had an opportunity to travel for a year not too long ago. It was a challenge for us to wrap our heads around taking a year off from our professional careers,” said Bandiera. “We thought, it’s a real shame that two people would have to wait X number of years to do this."

The award is meant to embody the principles outlined in President Patrick Deane’s 2011 letter, “Forward With Integrity.”

“The award puts particular emphasis on developing the whole person. As an organization, [the MSU] has been reflecting on the question: what is the real reason people come to university?” said Siobhan Stewart, MSU President. “It’s very much to get an education but with the dialogue we’re having on campus, it’s becoming evident that education is taking on a new meaning."

The panelists emphasized that the award encourages students to step outside of their current academic path.

"Initially, the idea was to go completely out of your field of study," said Carolyn Eyles, director of the Integrated Science Program.

"If it's something that follows quite naturally from what you're already doing, you aren't really taking a chance or expanding yourself. It shouldn't be something you could be getting credit for in your program,” said Allison Sekuler, dean of graduate studies.

“We have never done this before – we have no role models. We’re kind of just flying by the seat of our pants, but we have some idea of what the shape of this might be,” Sekuler said before opening the floor to questions.

The application is a two-part process, the first being a letter of intent due on Oct. 15. From there the field of applicants will be narrowed down. There will be a second application in the form of an enrichment plan describing objectives, a timeline and budget. The panel elaborated that the second application will be due likely in December. Following that, there might be some presentations from final candidates. The panel said the goal is for the winners to know by January.

Gold Level award winner Kyle Edward-Salter

Kyle Edward-Salter, a third year combined honours political science and labour studies student, has been awarded the Duke of Edinburgh Award - one of Canada’s most prestigious youth leadership awards. He is one of only 8,012 recipients of this specific Gold level award in the program’s 56-year history.

Edward-Salter will be travelling to Ottawa on September 12 to officially receive the award from His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, KG, GCVO, SOM, ADC.

The award was founded in 1956 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke of Edinburgh Charity aims to empower youth ages 14-24 to become involved in the community, develop practical and social skills and be physically active. The award itself requires substantial commitment and perseverance to meet the necessary volunteer and fitness requirements.  The program has three progressive levels that youth can work towards, which result in Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards.

Kyle began the program at age 14, initially focusing on attaining the Bronze level.  Eventually he set his sights on the Gold Level award, which he completed at age 20. The Gold Level requires participants to commit to leading an expedition and developing a residential project, which will enrich the community in the long-term. These two components are on top of the already rigorous fitness and community service requirements.

Kyle was guided towards the Duke of Edinburgh program through his early involvement in the Air Cadets. Many of his community projects, including debating coaching, outdoor expedition trips and participation in the Around the Bay Race have involved other members of the Air Cadet squadron.  But he was also quick to point out that the Duke of Edinburgh Award is open to all youth and could be an especially powerful way to harness youth leadership in universities and in urban areas such as Hamilton’s Downtown Core.

“Youth in cities really need this. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a huge personal achievement that is open to any and I would like to introduce it to as many people as possible“

Kyle was supported throughout the process by his mentor and coach, Captain Mike Lacombe. Cpt. Lacombe has known Kyle for several years through the Air Cadets Program.

Lacombe noted that in general, Duke of Edinburgh Award recipients typically stand out from the average young person in terms of their commitment to community service.

“Kyle in particular had 400-500 hours of service, well above the 100 required hours. And no one told him to do that…he just did.”

Lacombe, a former recipient and alumnus of the program described the excitement surrounding the upcoming awards ceremony. Kyle will be the second Hamiltonian, after Lacombe himself, to receive his award from a member of the royal family. Cpt. Lacombe received his award from HRH Prince Andrew while Kyle will receive his award from HRH Prince Edward.

Looking back upon his success in the program, Edward-Salter stated he wants to continue to be an ambassador for the award into the future.  There is currently no Duke of Edinburgh program or affiliated clubs at McMaster but Edward-Salter remarked that this would be an interesting endeavor to begin.  However, Kyle sees a greater demand in simply promoting the entire Canadian program, which is less established and does not have the same mainstream recognition in Canada than the initial program in the United Kingdom.


Dina Fanara

Assistant News Editor


Two of McMaster’s very own faculty members were named 3M National Teaching Fellows on Feb. 9, the highest honour in education at the university level in Canada.

Dr. Marshall Beier and Dr. Susan Vajoczki were named recipients of the honour, which is awarded to only ten professors each year.

Since 1986, 268 instructors have been chosen to receive this fellowship for their want to improve the quality of education for university students. Students and colleagues nominate potential candidates, with over 33,000 eligible candidates this year.

“In my mind this award is the penultimate accomplishment in university teaching and learning and recognition in teaching and learning in Canada…all of that work with students over the years. There was real value and recognition of that activity,” said Vajoczki.

“The most meaningful thing I get out of my teaching is talking to students about things that work for them and talking to them a year or two after a course and they talk about how important something was,” she added.

Dr. Vajoczki was a faculty member of the department of Geology and Earth Science for over ten years at McMaster, and led several trips with upper year undergraduates to Costa Rica for a field course on river erosion several years ago. She has also held the position of director of the Department of Experiential Education and is currently the director of the Centre for Leadership and Learning.

With a background in large class and inquiry teaching, Vajoczki found a way to solve the question ‘How do you do field work with 300 students?’ With her first year earth science students, Vajoczki incorporated a field trip for each student at some point in the first month of class, allowing all to have practical. When asked about her next steps, Vajoczki had some very exciting news to share.

In October of 2012, the Centre for Leadership and Learning will be hosting a conference at McMaster entitled, “International Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education,” for 500 delegates from around the world.

Beier, a professor of Political Science, said that “the most important thing for me is that students are encouraged to critically think about the material I teach.”

“I think it’s important that whether it’s a seminar, a lecture, or if it’s what’s going on in tutorials for a course that I teach, that it is always a safe space where we’re always expected to take responsibility for our perspectives . . . but it’s safe to take risks.”

Beier believes that “everyone needs to feel like they’re a part of the equation,” and this can be achieved by “trying to bring undergraduate students more into the research that we do.”

When asked what influenced his teaching methods, Beier stated that, “the very best teachers I had were the ones that me feel like I was a part of the process . . . students aren’t just here to become repositories of the knowledge that we’re developing, but rather they have an important role to take . . . to the production of knowledge.”

Both recipients underlined their gratefulness to be a part of McMaster. Vajoczki said that, “we are so fortunate to be at McMaster when it comes to teaching and learning.”

Similarly, Beier said, “I’m very grateful to be in a place like McMaster and in a department like the Department of Political Science, where all of my colleagues really take teaching seriously.”

“Your research makes your teaching better.”

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