C/O Peter Reimer, McMaster Sports

The women’s fencing team competed in the recent OUA championship, their first since the pandemic began

The McMaster women’s fencing team competed in the Ontario University Athletics championships on March 5 and March 6, their first championship since losing their last season due to the pandemic. However, the team has made a good return to form, doing well in both individual and team events. 

The first day of the championship was dedicated to individual events in epee, foil and sabre. In epee and foil one can only score using the tip of their sword, while in sabre fencers are also able to score using the side of their swords. The difference between epee and foil is the sword itself — epee is a traditional sword, while foil swords are lighter and easier to maneuver. 

In the individual epee, all four of the fencers — Mya George, Michelle Kim, Rachel McKenzie and Kat Silwowicz — advanced to the second round. Of the four, McKenzie, who finished in eighteenth place overall in round two, and Silwowicz moved on to the third round knockout play, where they were unfortunately defeated. 

“I wish I could have done better. But in the context of COVID and having not shown up to a competition in many, many years, I was pretty pleased. I think I finished one spot ahead of my last individual OUA placing, so that’s some personal improvement,” said McKenzie.  

In the individual foil, fencers Megan Foster, Katherine Hartman, Alyson Ree and Denise Sabac performed well in round one, but only Sabac managed to advance to round two, where she recorded one victor and indicator of -12 before finishing in twenty-fourth.    

Fencers Amy Hutchinson, Sophie Menault, Habiba Noor and Natalie Palmer took part in the individual sabre events. Menault and Palmer advanced to the first elimination round, but both were unfortunately defeated. Palmer succeeded in claiming tenth overall, the best for McMaster in the individual events. 

This year’s team roster is a bit smaller than usual, with several new members facing their first championship, for example Hutchinson. While these newer members felt they could have performed better, they were grateful for the learning experience. 

“It was really good for me to go as early as I did, to go in first year to get the nerves out, figure out the format, get used to how it feels and how everything is. So, in that sense I came away feeling very excited about fencing and feeling I knew what I wanted to do next . . . I learned a lot,” explained Hutchinson. 

“It was really good for me to go as early as I did, to go in first year to get the nerves out, figure out the format, get used to how it feels and how everything is. So, in that sense I came away feeling very excited about fencing and feeling I knew what I wanted to do next . . . I learned a lot."

Amy Hutchinson, Fencing Team Member

The second day of the competition was dedicated to the team competition. In the team epee, George, Kim, McKenzie and Silwowicz succeeded in scoring 12 points in the final bout, allowing them to secure a fifth-place finish. 

The foil team comprised of Foster, Hartman, Ree and Saba came ninth overall and the sabre team comprised of Hutchinson, Menault, Noor and Palmer came in sixth. 

While fencing is winding down for the summer months, the team is excited to get back in the game. 

“I think I am just looking forward to having more time to grow with the team, having more time to compete . . . Especially like being so new, I'm really excited to kind of see what happens next,” said Hutchinson. 

 Looking ahead, they’re also hoping to grow their numbers and continue to recruit new fencers. 

“I've seen the team pre- and post-COVID. Our numbers are way, way [lower] than they typically are and . . . I really want to see the team grow back to the size it used to be. I really [hope] to see people that are maybe looking for those opportunities they haven't gotten over COVID to come out and enjoy it,” explained McKenzie. 

The fencing team also runs beginner instructional fencing programs throughout the year, including the spring and summer terms, at the David Bradley Athletic Centre. 

Travis Nguyen/Photo Editor

After over a year of inactivity, the pulse is making a comeback and all are welcome!

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the campus was relatively inactive. For the fall and winter semester in 2020-2021 academic year, facilities such as the David Braley Athletic Centre were not used by regular students due to the provincial guidelines. However, after over a year of inactivity within the Mac campus, the Pulse is finally reopening, albeit with a slight twist. 

Since Sept. 7, the Pulse has been open at three different locations on campus. The gym will be running under an “open gym” system, in which the members who sign up can access the equipment on a first come, first served basis. However, students will be limited solely to the specific location that they have booked. 

The general rules associated with the Pulse will be presented to students before they sign up, but include mandatory provincial guidelines, such as mask wearing. However, the students will not be required to wear their masks in designated stations, but will have to maintain physical distance at all times. 

Although the Pulse has reopened for the whole student body, it will be divided into three locations to ensure social distancing and avoid overcrowding. When signing up for a gym session, Pulse members must sign up for a one and half hour time slot in one of the three locations. 

The first location is the Sport Hall Pulse. The Thérèse Quigley Sport Hall is located within DBAC and has an area of 16,000 square feet. Additionally, the Quigley Sport Hall is equipped with bikes, stair climbers, ellipticals, manual treadmills, dumbbells, benches, cable machines, squat racks and heavy duty platforms. 

The second location is the Pop-Up Pulse. The East Auxiliary gym is a temporary gym created for fitness activity until the Student Activity and Fitness Expansion Project — a multi-faceted project featuring the addition of a 3-story fitness addition, a 4-story student activity building and renovations to DBAC — is complete. This 7,500 square foot gym is located in the Ivor Wynne Centre. The gym is also beneficial for students when the main centre of the Pulse gets too busy, or just for students who are seeking new space. The Pop-Up Pulse also offers a wide variety of equipment including free weights, squat racks, machine resistance equipment, cardio equipment and more. Additionally, the East Auxiliary Gym offers a private womens-only section.  

The third location is the Track Pulse, located at DBAC. Just like the Pop-Up Pulse, this gym offers a women's only area, as well as a co-ed Area. The women's area is equipped with open floor space, fitness studio equipment, bikes, stair climbers, ellipticals, dumbbells, cable machines and a section of pin selectorized machines. 

A regular Pulse membership (included in tuition costs) includes access to all equipment within any of the three gyms, drop-in fitness classes and the Feather Family Climbing Wall. Additionally, there are personal trainers monitoring the floor at all times for anyone requiring general assistance. 

Students who have begun to attend the Pulse for the first time have expressed their general opinions on the new gym concept that is applied for the year. Emil Soleymani, a second-year studying software engineering who was eager to visit the Pulse, expressed his discontent regarding the Pop-Up Pulse. 

“I registered about two days before my slot and the whole system went smoothly. However, I was somewhat disappointed when I arrived at one of the sites offered on the forms. It had outdated equipment and it generally seemed like it was small,” explained Soleymani.

“I registered about two days before my slot and the whole system went smoothly. However, I was somewhat disappointed when I arrived at one of the sites offered on the forms. It had outdated equipment and it generally seemed like it was small.”

Emil Soleymani, Second-Year Student

Although dismayed by the site itself, Soleymani did not hesitate to acknowledge the efforts of the gym instructors.

“They were extremely helpful in showing me around, where I can wear and where I don't have to wear a mask. They were very considerate and deserve all due credit,” explained Soleymani.

“They were extremely helpful in showing me around, where I can wear and where I don't have to wear a mask. They were very considerate and deserve all due credit."

Emil Soleymani, Second Year Student

When coming to the gym, the students should also be fully aware of the rules and regulations that are in place. These include restrictions on what can be worn inside the gym, which objects can be brought to the gym and which resources the students should bring along when entering the gym, such as their key card. The full rules and regulations can be found here.

Graphic By: Yoohyun Park/Production Coordinator

With more study spaces and expanded facilities, an updated hub for student life is underway

At McMaster University, the David Braley Athletic Centre serves multiple purposes for students, including recreation, fitness training and rehabilitation. As a staple building of McMaster for more than 14 years, this year, facilities at DBAC will be undergoing some changes. 

In February of 2020, the McMaster Students Union announced that a new building will be added next to DBAC. The referendum to build this building was initially voted through by students in March 2017. 

The MSU presented three name options for students to vote on, including “The Marauder Activity Centre”, “The Student Life Centre” and “The Hub.” Ultimately, students voted for the building to be called the Hub. 

Within the Hub, there will be four floors. The main floor will have an open-concept study area and event space. The second floor will have a grocer and more lounge areas. The third floor will include peer support services. The fourth floor will have bookable multi-purpose spaces as well as multi-faith prayer spaces. 

Currently, MSU peer support services such as the Student Health Education Centre and Women and Gender Equity Network are located on the second floor of the McMaster University Student Centre. 

John McGowan, general manager of the MSU, said that even though the third floor of the Hub will include spaces for MSU services, the original location of SHEC and WGEN will not be moved. “The intent of the Hub was not to relocate our current services, but to provide more meeting space,” said McGowan. 

Following the completion of the Hub, it will also be physically connected to DBAC, allowing students to walk between both buildings with ease. 

Although the Hub was previously scheduled to open in 2021, the building is now scheduled for completion in the summer of 2022

Although the Hub was previously scheduled to open in 2021, the building is now scheduled for completion in the summer of 2022.

Along with the building of the Hub, an upcoming expansion to the Pulse Fitness Centre will be completed. Currently, the Pulse is where students have access to a wide range of fitness equipment and facilities.

With an additional 60,000 square feet of space, this expansion will include new equipment, a women’s only fitness area, more cardio and weight training spaces, a climbing wall and a bouldering wall. 

Since 2017, students approved a $95 per year fee whichwill increase by $2.99 per academic unit following the completion of the Hub. Included in this fee is the annual membership students have for access to the Pulse.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students who wish to workout at the Pulse must sign up for a one and a half-hour timeslot in one of three Pulse locations. This includes the Sport Hall Pulse, Pop-Up Pulse, and Track Pulse. 

As a consequence of the current construction occurring at the Pulse, fitness equipment is not evenly distributed amongst the three locations. However, Fitness and Wellness Coordinator Lee-Anne Wilson, said that students can check ahead of time to find out what sort of equipment is available at each location. 

Fitness trainers are also available at each location and can support students in finding alternatives for their workouts. 

Although she might not be able to experience the new expansion and facilities offered at the Hub following graduation this year, Victoria Cirone, a fourth-year kinesiology student and fitness instructor at the Pulse shared that she is excited to know that the Pulse will be expanded due to how busy the gym was prior to the pandemic. 

“The gyms were crowded, there were a lot of people to a squat rack and especially at peak hours, it was really busy. I’m glad that there will be more equipment, facilities, rooms and that sort of thing," said Cirone.

“The gyms were crowded, there were a lot of people to a squat rack and especially at peak hours, it was really busy. I’m glad that there will be more equipment, facilities, rooms and that sort of thing.”

Victoria cirone, Kinesiology student and fitness instructor

If all goes according to schedule, students who will be at McMaster in the 2022-2023 academic year can look forward to enjoying this new change for DBAC as well as all the added facilities brought forward by the Hub.

Photo C/O Brandon Vandecaveye / Western Mustangs

On Nov. 9, the McMaster Marauders beat the Western Mustangs 29-15. This marks the eighth Yates Cup win in school history and will hopefully lead to the fifth Vanier Cup appearance for McMaster, although the Marauders will have to get through the University of Calgary Dinos first. 

Although it was a big win for the school, we wish a speedy and full recovery for Mustangs’ quarterback Chris Merchant, who left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Merchant was the league’s Most Valuable Player this year and had a phenomenal season leading Western to an undefeated regular season.

The game was won in old school football fashion, with a strong run game and even better defensive play. With 37 rushing attempts for 123 yards, the Marauders were able to dominate time of possession at 34 minutes and 30 seconds out of a total game time of 60 minutes. In addition to their successful run game, the team upheld the old saying “defence wins championships”. The Marauders’ defence held Western’s high flying offence to just nine yards in the second quarter. The Marauders also had two safeties, six sacks, two recovered fumbles, two interceptions and a blocked punt. 

In addition to their successful run game, the team upheld the old saying “defence wins championships”. The Marauders’ defence held Western’s high flying offence to just nine yards in the second quarter. The Marauders also had two safeties, six sacks, two recovered fumbles, two interceptions and a blocked punt. 

Stunning stat at the #YatesCup: @WesternMustangs had 9 yards of offence in the second quarter. #HamOnt #OUA @McMasterSports

— Scott Radley (@radleyatthespec) November 9, 2019

No game can be perfect. In particular, the Marauders had three turnovers in the first quarter. Retaining possession of the ball will be a key factor in the Mitchell Bowl, the game they play this Saturday Nov. 16 which is the precursor to the Vanier Cup, where they play the Calgary Dinos. The Marauders won’t be able to get away with that many turnovers in one quarter on the higher stage. Calgary’s defence has been a force all season and they held the University of Saskatchewan Huskies to just four points in the Hardy Cup, the final game of the Canada West division. 

The University of Calgary will undoubtedly be a tough opponent, as they boast an undefeated home record this season. The game will be played at McMahon Stadium, on the Dinos’ home turf. The odds are certainly stacked against us as no Ontario University Athletics team has won a bowl game out West since 1968.

The odds are certainly stacked against us as no Ontario University Athletics team has won a bowl game out West since 1968.

If the maroon and grey beat the Dinos, then it will mark their first Vanier Cup appearance since 2014, where they lost by only one point to the University of Montreal Carabins. If the Marauders win against Calgary, then they will play the winners of the Uteck Bowl, which will be either the University of Acadia Axemen or the University of Montreal Carabins. The Uteck Bowl and Mitchell Bowl are essentially the semi-finals leading up to the Vanier Cup, where the top teams from the different conferences will take turns hosting and visiting.  

The Marauders have prospered under head coach Stefan Ptaszek. He has been the head coach for the team  in their past three out of four Vanier Cup appearances. In other words, Ptaszek has been influential in three-quarters of the Marauders’ Vanier Cup appearances. Not only is Ptaszek a prolific coach, but he was also an outstanding player. Ptaszek remains the current all-time leader in receiving yards for the University of Laurier Golden Hawks and played in the Canadian National Football league from 1995-2000, as a player, and from 2016-2017 as an offensive coordinator and receivers coach. 

On Nov. 16 we play the Dinos for a Vanier Cup bid, where two of the best defences in Canada will battle for a place in the history books. 

 

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Photos c/o Gabrielle Bulman Thomas

If it felt like there were millions of new raptors fans this past summer, that’s because there probably were. There’s nothing quite like the first National basketball asociation championship in Canadian history to bring people together, one of the great powers of athletics. Whether it’s playing sports or watching the Toronto Raptors dominate the Golden State Warriors, sports have a habit of uniting people together over a common interest. This sense of inclusivity is also why intramurals play a big role in the off-campus community here at McMaster. 

When you live off-campus, it can be hard to feel like you have a home at Mac. School can be a place associated with academic stress and not much else. This is why the society of off-campus students runs intramurals every week. Intramurals can be a great way to get to know more people who are also in a similar situations. Here’s what the president of the society of off-campus students, Jeremy Sewnauth, had to say about SOCS and intramurals.

“Sports are a universal thing that everyone can bond over whether you’re talking about it or playing it,” Sewnauth said.  “At intramurals, we end up doing so many different sports, this term we’re running soccer, water polo and frisbee and those were the sports that the members of the society voted for.” Sewnauth said.

Taking part in the PlayFun division is a great way to get involved in sport through a relatively non-competitive environment, where no one takes things too seriously and everyone is just looking to have some fun. There’s no need to have extensive knowledge in the sport or know every detail about the rules. PlayFun is a casual level of sport where students can meet one another.

“You don’t have to have any experience, you don’t have to know how to play any sports, if it’s something you’re interested in or you just want to kill some time, you can just pop in and play. If you don’t know how to play it everyone that’s there is willing and able to teach you how to play,” Sewnauth mentioned.

Playing sports chosen by SOCS members themselves makes it likely that people will come out, as they are going to be playing the sports they voted for. This type of engagement with everyone in the club is part of why SOCS is so successful. 

“Every single weekend we’ll have a full squad come out for soccer, frisbee and water polo which gives you the opportunity to bond with people. A lot of people after games end up hanging out and every time I’ve met so many people,” added Sewnauth. 

SOCS aims to offer off-campus students a way to feel connected and provide a home at McMaster. They offer multiple ways of trying to do that but, sports and intramurals are definitely one of the best ways to accomplish their goal. 

“A lot of the times you’ll see groups of people, like a floor in residence or something they’ll put together a team or that same group of students that were all friends before. In later years they’ll keep doing these intramural teams every year. We try to create something similar where we’re creating a community among sports,” said Sewnauth. 

Being an off-campus student can often feel lonely but it doesn’t have to be. Intramurals are a great way to connect with other students. You can get a SOCS membership in the basement of the student centre and they’ll be more than happy to help you sign up for their intramural team.

 

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If you’re new to the McMaster community, there are a lot of things to learn. Mac has its own set of standards and rules—some of which may seem more unusual than others.

Among these unusual norms is a rule at the Pulse, the fitness and cardio facility at Mac’s David Braley Athletic Centre. While this portion of the gym asks some fairly standard qualities, among them proper footwear and general courtesy, it also makes another thing clear—no sleeves, no service.

The Athletics and Recreation website states “A full shirt with sleeves must be worn. Halter tops, tank tops or half shirts are not permitted,” adding “sleeveless unitards must be covered by a T-shirt.”

The rule has been in place at Mac since the early 2000s, even before the existence of DBAC. It makes McMaster stand out among other universities. Queen’s, Western and U of T, for example, have no comparable rules.

But what makes it especially unique is how it came to be.

Kathleen Marin Ginis, a professor in health and exercise psychology at Mac’s Department of Kinesiology, explained that the decision to implement the Pulse’s rule was purely evidence-based.

“I would suggest that the use of evidence to inform such a policy is wonderful and a unique thing that they’re doing at the Pulse,” she said.

The athletic centre’s management at the time looked at a body of research and made the decision to change the clothing rules at the gym.

Pulse staff cited a number of studies that suggested people experienced anxiety based on their perceived appearance and the appearance of others exercising around them.

A 1989 study out of Wake Forest University, for example, established a free trial of cialis “social physique anxiety scale,” to assess the degree to which people were uneasy when they felt others were evaluating their bodies. Findings suggested that certain elements of a workout environment—among them, clothing—affected people’s sense of insecurity.

Further research, some of it done in Marin Ginis’ own lab at McMaster, confirmed the study’s findings, suggesting that people were more comfortable and thus more likely to work out if people around them were dressed in a less revealing way.

“The results tend to be consistent,” she said. “When you’re talking about new exercisers—it freaks them out.”

And this is exactly the problem DBAC is hoping to combat.

“McMaster has a very lofty goal for getting high levels of participation in athletics and attendance at the DBAC and is something I know athletics takes very seriously,” said Marin Ginis.

“They’re not just interested in getting the usual gym rats there…they want people to start being active, and to continue being physically active… if it can be as simple as telling people not to wear tank tops in the gym, then why wouldn’t we do that?”

While it’s not a foolproof measure, and the gym staff are not meant to be “wardrobe watchdogs,” staff suggest that the outcomes are worthwhile, and that it results in a more welcoming workout environment.

 

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