Photo by Kyle West

By: Adriana Skaljin

Being in athletics, especially at a university level, can add pressure to the lives of athletes. Whether it comes from personal expectations, or those of coaches and fans, pressure can affect both their physical and mental states. 

Matt Quiring, who has been a forward for the McMaster men’s basketball team for four years, began playing due to his family’s love for the sport.

“I started playing when I was in the third grade, but started playing competitively in Grade five,” said Quiring. “I’m glad that my parents forced me to play, considering that I was shy. It got me to where I am today.”

Through basketball, Quiring met many important coaches and players who provided him with opportunities he would not have experienced otherwise.

“Basketball also taught me hard work ethic, [which] I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else,” explained Quiring. “This skill can be translated later on in life.”

Sefa Otchere, first-year starting guard, also acknowledged the ways in which basketball has positively impacted his life.

“[The sport] is still impacting my life,” Otchere said. “Playing sports made me get out of my house, and [ultimately] showed me different places [while] making new friends.”

Both players also commented on the pressures that playing at a university level places on them.

“There is a lot of pressure that comes with the sport, both academically and athletically,” said Quiring. “It can get to you a lot of times. The mental and physical struggles can become taxing.”

Quiring and Otchere have implemented motivational strategies to work through their doubts and create a positive mindset when going into their games.

“[The pressure] is something I’ve struggled with,” said Quiring. “Recently, I have increased my confidence and have used pregame techniques given to me by a sports psychologist. There is a whole mental side to preparing.”

Otchere has a similar approach to handling pressure, starting with not putting expectations on himself.

“Basketball should be used to relieve stress and pressure, rather than provide that. I try and remind myself that before games,” said Otchere. “I make sure to remember that I need to go out and have fun.”

A healthy mindset is also important when coming back from a loss or a tough game. Recently, the Marauders suffered back-to-back tough losses against Brock University and Western University on Jan. 30 and Feb. 2.

“It’s always hard coming back from a loss because you have to watch the film and look at your mistakes. Then you have to fix them before the next game,” said Otchere.

That’s what we’re talking about 😤💪 @sefa_otchere

— McMaster Basketball (@mcmastermbb) January 19, 2019

“You need time to mourn the loss, in a sense,” added Quiring. “After that, you need to put it behind you and realize where you messed up, and then learn and move on.”

Otchere also had to prepare for his comeback after his injury earlier in the season.

“I felt like I had to get my [groove], and confidence back,” said Ochere. “I also had to do extra practices to physically get back into the game as well.

Going into the end of the regular season, the players have applied these techniques as a means for achieving their goals.

“Besides winning, we want to make it to the final four and get to nationals,” said Quiring. “[Coach] Patrick Tatham preaches consistency [and] sets up team and individual workouts to develop skills needed to achieve our goals.”

“We need to make it known that we are one of the best teams,” said Ochere. “[All of] my focus is towards playing right and making playoffs.”

It is evident that both mental and physical health are important towards the well-being of athletes. The McMaster men’s basketball team’s perseverance and passion for the game will definitely be reflected in the upcoming games and in their journey towards nationals.


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By: Sasha Dhesi

Recently an old classmate sent me a private message to wish me a happy birthday. The message reminded me of how I felt when our friendship petered out. We had a similar sense of humour and shared mutual interests, but as time went on, we found that although we still enjoyed each other’s company, we weren’t running in the same social or professional circles, and fell out of touch. I struggled with losing her, especially because, for all intents and purposes, we were still friends. How was I supposed to deal with our relationship just dying like that? What does it say about us that our relationship ended?

There’s a lot of pressure during your early 20s to find that group of friends that will follow you throughout your life. We’re taught that these are the most important years in our lives to build relationships that last. Every once in awhile, this manifests on anonymous posts, like on Spotted at Mac, where an unnamed upper year stresses over not having a clique despite being at the school for multiple years. While this sentiment is understandable, there are legitimate reasons to why you should occasionally let a relationship die, as opposed to working to save it.

There is nothing wrong with hoping that your social circle will follow you through life; the problem is failing to comprehend that you and those around you are going to change. The person you’re going to be one year from now is going to have different expectations and needs than the person you are this year. Sometimes the people in your life change with you, but more often than not, they diverge onto their own paths and can’t give you what you need.

By going into a relationship with the assumption that it’s going to last a very long time, you project your own needs and desires onto a person, which they may not share. In doing so, you stop treating people as people, and instead as objects to satisfy what you imagine your future should look like. Not only is this unfair to your partner, but it’s unfair to you. You should be in a relationship with someone who wants to give you what you need, as opposed to waiting for someone else to change.

Likewise, by assuming you have to remain in a relationship with someone, you run the risk of remaining in a harmful relationship. You are always going to change, but some people may not want you to. My eighth-grade orchestra teacher liked to tell us that “misery loves company.” Although he just meant we should avoid kids who skip band practice, it still struck a chord with me. Every so often, you will run into people who promote unhealthy behaviour and will want you to conform to their desires even if it hurts you.

A lot of people in university feel pressured to stay in these sorts of relationships because they believe that they’ll lose out on that ideal group of friends you hear about in shows like Friends and How I Met Your Mother. But these are the exception to the rule, and in the case of TV shows, completely made up. Chances are, you’re not going to meet your best friend or true love during your first year of university. You’re probably not going to meet them for a very long time, actually. Psychologically speaking, the brain doesn’t finish maturing until you’re 25, if not later. This is particularly true of the critical decision-making portion of the brain. By this standard, you’re not going to be ready to make any long-term decisions until you’re at least two to three years out of your undergraduate degree.

By going into a relationship with the assumption that it’s going to last a very long time, you project your own needs and desires onto a person, which they may not share. In doing so, you stop treating people as people, and instead as objects to satisfy what you imagine your future should look like. 

So where does that leave us? Should you just treat every relationship as casual? The best way to balance your desire to change with your relationships is to let your relationships die when they need to. There will be times when someone you used to speak to everyday stops responding to your texts. There will also be times when you begin to dread going certain places because you have to see this person.

The key to maintaining everyone’s dignity and self-respect during these instances is to understand that it’s completely normal for relationships to die during this time in our lives. Be clear about your intentions with someone, and let them know if you’re not happy or satisfied with your relationship. From here, you can either work on your relationship or end it.

We are going through monumental changes, and different circumstances can mean different people are needed in your life. Some people may not be emotionally equipped to handle what you’re going through and vice versa. Treat this as a moment for self-reflection and not as a personal failure.

As for my friend and I, we’re still on good terms. Our relationship may have fizzled out, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t care about each other. What it ultimately says about us is that we were mature enough to understand that we grew apart. You will meet a lot of people and many of your relationships will die. It’s not a negative reflection on either of you, but a reflection of growth. Just make sure you wish them a happy birthday, at the very least.

Photo Credit: Matt Mullenweg

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