Male-identifying students share their perspectives on masculinity

In Michael Ian Black’s New York Times essay, The Boys Are Not All Right, he expressed his opinions on the topic of masculinity far more eloquently than I possibly could.

“To be a girl today is to be the beneficiary of decades of conversation about the complexities of womanhood, its many forms and expressions. Boys, though, have been left behind. No commensurate movement has emerged to help them navigate toward a full expression of their gender,” wrote Black.

The Silhouette sat down with male-identifying students to hear their takes on masculinity and how their experiences have shaped their self and gender identities.

Avery Jackman

C/O Natasha Uhrig

In his fourth year of the health and society program, Avery Jackman is loud and proud of his identity. Through his work with CFMU’s Rainbow Radio and more, he encourages students to lay claim to their identity.

Jackman views masculinity as complex and multi-faceted. An outer reflection of your inner self, masculinity is something deeply personal and individual. Concurrently, finding one’s own definition of masculinity involves an interplay of historical, societal and biological factors.

He described his elementary school experience as a time in his life where he couldn’t necessarily pinpoint what masculinity was but began to understand how to ascribe to it — how to walk, how to talk, how to sit. 

“My earliest memory [of discovering the concept of masculinity] was unfortunately as a young kid, being bullied for being different. I distinctly remember it because I actually found an old picture from kindergarten . . . of me with my friend in the kitchen wearing a pair of heels and a dress. I didn't think anything of it until the picture was posted in the hallway and older kids had seen it,” said Jackman.

Dance and self-expression helped Jackman find his identity through the years. Growing up, he described a constant inner conflict between his own style of dance and that which he was taught to ascribe to — a hyper-masculine archetype of the “male lead.” Jackman currently teaches heels dance classes.

“I [decided] to find a style of dance that aligns with my identity and how I want to express myself. It's art and art is not up to one person's perception. It's what you want to do and what I wanted to make was a dance that showed men being fluid, quote-unquote feminine and challenging gender and dance,” said Jackman.

It was in university that Jackman really began to experiment with identity expression, noting the importance of friends who allowed him to be authentically himself in his personal journey.

“I remember the first time I wore heels to school, before I left the house I called my friends to say, "I'm wearing heels to school. I need you to be on speed dial just in case something happens. Either hate crimes or I fall and get embarrassed. I need you to be there for me because this is a big step." I [was] feeling overwhelmed . . . It's important to have a good group of friends and have a support system,” said Jackman.

Jackman hopes that students understand that gender is a non-binary, individual concept with no set model. How you choose to express your masculinity or femininity does not need to align with anything you've seen before.

“Create your own path through the [world] . . . People's journey of self-exploration is personal and something that, even though it, unfortunately, is politicized, is also not up for debate. Once you learn to unpack the things that you've learned and been taught, you start to invite the person you want to be without the social constructions of others telling you who you should be. Show [that person to] the world, even if there is backlash. I guarantee you, somebody will appreciate you for it, someone will love you for it and somebody will be inspired by it,” said Jackman.

Max Pinkerton

C/O Max Pinkerton

Max Pinkerton is a fifth-year commerce student who plays for the McMaster rugby team. This past year, he was in charge of the McMaster Movember campaign, advocating for men’s mental health.

Pinkerton grew up playing hockey and rugby, both of which are extremely physical sports. He described the norms that arose as a product of the competitive sports environment. Although the ideas of “manning up” or “being a man” came up, he also found a sense of brotherhood in the shared journey of claiming one’s own identity in sports.

“There’s definitely a sense of unity when you all struggle together. You don't have to struggle in silence, it's something that you can talk about. The strength is in showing your weakness and moving forward,” said Pinkerton.

In his pursuit of destigmatizing open discussion about masculinity and men’s mental health, Pinkerton proposed not shying away from difficult conversations and taking the initiative to talk to friends and loved ones about gender.

“[Men] make up 75% per cent of suicides [in Canada]. That is a crazy number to think about, but I think the fact that we're now having discussions about it, — talking about why this number is so high and what we can do to [motivate people] not to tough it out, but actually talk to others about it — goes against that old school concept of being a man. I do think it's changing, and it's changing for the better,” said Pinkerton.

Rogelio Cruz González

C/O Rogelio Cruz González

As the president and founder of the McMaster Men’s Health Society, Rogelio Cruz González is a second-year life sciences student with a passion for advocacy and men’s health. In his personal journey with gender, González explained that he began to grasp the concept of masculinity when he moved to Canada from Mexico in his early teens.

“In North America, it’s a bit more open-minded when it comes to how men are expected to act. In more [traditional] cultural backgrounds, like Mexico, it's still very enforced that men have to be the providers. They have to be the strong person that carries the family on their shoulders. They're the ones that show determination and courage and strength . . . and that's partially due to the fact that they still stick to their traditional roots of the nuclear family,” said González. 

As González has had the opportunity to explore what it means to be a man in various cultures, he has expressed disappointment in certain cultures’ restrictive views.

Having seen the repercussions of trying to make one’s self-identity fit into these restrictive moulds, González stressed the importance of open discussion with others on the topics of masculinity and mental health.

“Often times as men, we fail to take care of ourselves and that ultimately not only impacts us but it impacts the people around us. If you're not good to yourself, those problems eventually start to [outwardly] express themselves . . . If [people] really try to care for and invest in themselves, to make sure their own needs are met and their own desires are reached, we will create this positive change,” said González.

Tristan Lindo

C/O McMaster Athletics

In his third year of communications studies and a player for the McMaster men’s basketball team, Tristan Lindo described masculinity as a term denoting a sense of respect and power.

As is the case with many individuals, the portrayals of masculinity and body image that Lindo saw in the media as a child largely shaped his definition of masculinity.

“When [you’re] younger, you look at the media and you're seeing these big muscular guys and then you look at yourself. I have a more slender build, so I [would] think, “am I not a man?” Now that I've matured and gotten older, I realized there's way more to it than that,” said Lindo.

Lindo wants labelling to be less normalized, in the goal of breaking down stereotypes of what it means to be a man.

“It's kind of happening right now, but I wish society could come to a place where there's no real image of masculinity. Kind of like what they've done in the beauty sector — how they've now recently said that all sizes, all shapes and all colours are all beautiful. It should be the same thing for men. All men are masculine,” said Lindo.

For students, Lindo imparted the importance of staying true to one’s own identity.

“People are going to have their own perspectives, views and opinions. Stay true to yourself, and don't let anyone's opinion shake you then. Don't let anyone tell you what you are and what you are not,” said Lindo.

Despite the pandemic limiting in-person interaction, various McMaster sports teams have found ways to instill community while growing their month-long moustache.

Ever since its founding in 2003, the Movember campaign has funded more than 1250 men’s health initiatives with twenty countries participating. Since its origin in Australia, over 6 million individuals have cumulatively participated in the campaign, raising $1.13 billion since its inception. Within the last year, $20.8 million was raised in Canada, where 66.5% was allocated for men’s health projects. 

Movember was brought to life by two Australian men, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, who wanted to raise awareness regarding four main areas of men’s health: mental health, physical activity, testicular cancer and prostate cancer.

From raising $0 in their founding year, they were able to fundraise $50,468 the following year, while increasing their participants 16-fold from 30 to 480. The aim of the campaign is to reduce premature death of men by 25 percent by 2030. In fact, males comprise 75 percent of all suicides, with one man dying by it every minute. 

 

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For the past six years, McMaster men’s rugby athletes have participated in the initiative. This year, Max Pinkerton, a fifth-year player taking a senior role on the team, expanded the initiative to encompass all Marauder athletes. 

“We reached out to our friends who are on other sports teams and decided to bear this initiative. Fortunately, we grew to seven teams this year . . . We see that no sports are going to be played this year so we figured that why not expand Movember so everyone can partake in it and I think that’s something teams took pretty well,” said Pinkerton. 

“We reached out to our friends who are on other sports teams and decided to bear this initiative. Fortunately, we grew to seven teams this year . . . We see that no sports are going to be played this year so we figured that why not expand Movember so everyone can partake in it and I think that’s something teams took pretty well,” said Pinkerton. 

This year was quite different during the campaign as many of the typical events had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Typically, we’re more hands-on with gathering sponsorships, donations and hosting events,” said Pinkerton.

As the pandemic has taken a toll on many individuals’ mental health, the rugby team did a modified team photoshoot with a collage. They also created a bottle drive, both with the goal to instil a sense of community amongst the team.

They also partnered with the Movember organization to create an online trivia night, where family and friends joined in on the fundraising campaign. Athletes have also done personal challenges where they would interact with the community on their route. 

“It's definitely interesting to create a sense of community while being virtual, you kind of take granted the face to face moments,” said Pinkerton.

At the end of the month, the rugby team was able to raise just over $8,900, beating their goal of $7,500.

Among the seven teams, the men’s baseball team and volleyball teams also participated in this year’s campaign. Bennett Swan, a fourth-year player on the volleyball team, led his team’s campaign, raising a collective total of over $12,000, surpassing their initial goal by $5,000. For Swan, Movember has a personal connection to him, after losing his dad in the eighth grade to cancer. 

“It took a lot of courage and taking that first step for checking my mental health and testicular cancer, something men may find awkward to do. But it is essential to do. It's really easy to fall into the trap of Movember for not shaving, but if you peel back the layers and see the deep meaning behind wanting to see men live longer,” said Swan.

Swan further emphasized the importance of admitting to oneself they need help and continues to advocate for loved ones checking-in on themselves, such as speaking with a counsellor. 

“It took a lot of courage and taking that first step for checking my mental health and testicular cancer, something men may find awkward to do. But it is essential to do. It's really easy to fall into the trap of Movember for not shaving, but if you peel back the layers and see the deep meaning behind wanting to see men live longer,” said Swan.

 

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For Julian Tymochko and Kenny Noguchi, fourth- and sixth-year players on the baseball team, this was their first year participating in the Movember campaign. They successfully raised over $4,500, surpassing their goal of $2,000. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team decided to ramp up their social media presence. 

“We did a round-robin tournament for best moustache. That was one way we got people involved. We got quite a few donations from that so it’s been quite effective,” said Noguchi. 

“We did a round-robin tournament for best moustache. That was one way we got people involved. We got quite a few donations from that so it’s been quite effective,” said Noguchi. 

To raise awareness regarding mental health, Tymochko also did 10-kilometre runs to help clear his mind but wanted to expand to his entire team for future years.

“You see 20 big, burly guys running down the street and people will be asking what’s going on there? It’s just to bring more eyes and awareness,” said Tymochko. 

“You see 20 big, burly guys running down the street and people will be asking what’s going on there? It’s just to bring more eyes and awareness,” said Tymochko. 

For all the teams involved, raising awareness, in general, has been the predominant goal.

“We’re dropping interviews to help break down the barriers affecting the stigma of dealing with mental health and testicular cancer. Something I usually sign off with every November is “check your balls”. It feels a bit taboo, but the main thing about Movember is getting to know yourself, physical but also the mental health side of it as well,” said Pinkerton.

Pinkerton, Noguchi, Swan and Tymochko all emphasize the importance of reaching out for support and not fighting your battles yourself.

“We’re dropping interviews to help break down the barriers affecting the stigma of dealing with mental health and testicular cancer. Something I usually sign off with every November is “check your balls”. It feels a bit taboo, but the main thing about Movember is getting to know yourself, physical but also the mental health side of it as well,” said Pinkerton.

 

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Matthew Passalent joins SK Zadruga AICH/DOB as his first professional team after his tenure at McMaster

Before stepping on to the court as a member of SK Zadruga AICH/DOB, Matthew Passalent began his volleyball journey in the various volleyball camps hosted by McMaster Athletics & Recreation. As such, he fostered good relationships with the coaches there, so joining the McMaster University men’s volleyball team was not unfamiliar territory for Passalent. He described his transition as very welcoming.

In his first year on the McMaster volleyball team, he followed the guidance of the senior members. He watched many of their games prior to enrolling at McMaster — he looked up to them and modelled his game after them. 

“It was awesome to have the opportunity to practice with [the McMaster athletes], watch them play up close and get a good grasp on their mentality,” said Passalent.

[/media-credit] Passalent as a member of the McMaster Men's Volleyball team.

Passalent explained that he received more playing time and entered more of a leadership role as the years progressed. He recalled how during his fourth and fifth years, the rookies looked up to him in a similar way that he looked up to the upper-years during his rookie year.

“It was awesome to have the opportunity to practice with [the McMaster athletes], watch them play up close and get a good grasp on their mentality,” said Passalent.

Aside from playing as outside hitter for the team, his position varied from opposite to outside hitter. He did not receive much playing time during his rookie year; he played a few points at the end of matches. It was not until around his third-year Passalent started for the team.

“We have really good older guys, playing for Team Canada, the junior team, etc . . . It was really hard to crack a starting spot in your first or second year,” said Passalent.

“We have really good older guys, playing for Team Canada, the junior team, etc . . . It was really hard to crack a starting spot in your first or second year,” said Passalent.

Passalent recounts his biggest achievement during his tenure at McMaster was winning the Ontario University Athletics gold medal in his third-year. 

“It was a record of winning the OUA championship in six consecutive years. That was my third championship. It's really cool to be a part of the team and a part of history,” said Passalent. 

With regards to personal awards, he has the most pride for receiving the OUA West Player of the Year during his fourth-year.

“When my coach told me, I was really shocked because I was injured for most of the year,” said Passalent.

In winter 2019, Passalent and the team participated in the 2019 Can Am Holiday Volleyball Showcase in which teams from the United States and Canada competed against one another. Passalent recollected how this was a major downside in his career, having won no games at the invitational tournament. However, after playing in this tournament, the team bounced back with a major win against Trinity Western University, then the top team in U Sports.

Playing overseas has been quite different on the court for Passalent. He stated how many players come from different parts of the world while learning different techniques.

“I just thought it would be how I was used to in Canada. But we were doing drills I never heard of. It was really fascinating. It's definitely good to learn a lot,” said Passalent.

“I just thought it would be how I was used to in Canada. But we were doing drills I never heard of. It was really fascinating. It's definitely good to learn a lot,” said Passalent.

In fall 2020, Passalent joined SK Zadruga AICH/DOB in Austria to play for his first professional team. 

[/media-credit] Passalent as a member of SK Zadruga AICH/DOB.

“It was a completely different vibe. This town I was living in was very small. Everyone knew each other. You can walk to anywhere in town within 15 minutes. Being from such a small town, the team had hardcore, dedicated fans. It felt like a really great atmosphere at the few games I participated in,” said Passalent. 

Adapting to this new lifestyle was not as difficult as Passalent thought it would be.

“I found that I had to get into a strict schedule. I feel I had to keep eating and fueling myself, doing it at the right times. It's a grind out there. If you don't take care of your body, it will come back and punish you,” said Passalent.

As the team predominantly spoke English, Passalent did not run into many language barrier issues. 

“I found that I had to get into a strict schedule. I feel I had to keep eating and fueling myself, doing it at the right times. It's a grind out there. If you don't take care of your body, it will come back and punish you,” said Passalent.

A typical day for Passalent begins with waking up at 7:30 a.m., eating breakfast and then working out at 8 a.m. Afterwards, he would go grocery shopping to make a bigger breakfast and take a midday nap. Then, he would join the team for lunch followed by recreational activities, such as watching Netflix. Around 6:00 p.m., the team would practice until 8:00 p.m. Lastly, he would cook a large dinner and head to bed. 

[/media-credit] Passalent spikes the ball past Dinamo MOSCOW player in their first-round pool match of the CEV 2021 Champions League.

Before Passalent tore his rotator cuff this past October, he participated in four qualifying matches as part of the CEV Champions League for the 2020-2021 season.

“The pool we were in was tough. We were slated as underdogs. We had to play the third-ranked team and number one team in Russia,” said Passalent.

In his first game with the team, Passalent led the team in scoring as they captured a win. Despite this victory, the team lost the rest of their qualification matches. Passalent was only able to play in the first three until his shoulder injury occurred. He states that most likely he will need to get surgery, following a four-five month recovery time. 

[/media-credit] Passalent sends the ball over Neftochimik BURGAS in their first-round pool match of the CEV 2021 Champions League.

“Hopefully I see myself still playing volleyball but maybe in a higher-level league like in Italy, France, Germany or Turkey, as they also pay better money,” said Passalent.

While recovering from his injury, Passalent will actively seek out a new contract to head back onto the court, either with SK Zadruga AICH/DOB or a brand new team.

McMaster students bring light to truly thoughtful conversation with Potential Excellence podcast

True, meaningful conversation is a gift. It involves profound, open and encouraging discussion, a sense of feeling heard and an opportunity to learn and grow. Through their podcast, Potential Excellence, second-year McMaster University students Brian Osei-Boateng and Tevin Wellington exemplify this wonderful kind of conversation to support and encourage.

Initially having met in high school, Osei-Boateng and Wellington are the co-creators of Potential Excellence. Described by both as more of a message than just a brand or a podcast, Potential Excellence began initially as a project for the pair’s Grade 11 leadership class where they were asked to invent a brand to address a real cause. They did well on the project and then months later, when they were getting ready to head off to university, the idea came back up again. 

“We came to the conclusion that if we could do this good on a fake brand about a real cause as a team for just a school project, imagine if we made this a real thing?” said Osei-Boateng.

We’ve shown our potential to a few, we’ve shown that we can be excellent to some, but to many we have a lot of things to prove #JourneysNeverOver

— Potential Excellence (@PotentialExcel) September 30, 2019

They went back and forth with ideas, drawing on their initial project. They considered their own strengths and past experiences to determine what message and topics they wanted to include. 

Gradually it all came together and Potential Excellence began to take form. They officially launched just over a year ago, publishing their podcast in September 2019. Within the last year, they have continued to grow, expanding to more platforms and gaining more followers. 

Each podcast episode is centred around a conversation between Osei-Boateng, Wellington and an occasional guest. They have covered a wide variety of topics in their podcast, ranging from dating advice to diversity. When choosing topics they rely on a variety of sources, including input from their followers and also world events.

“It sucks to have an easy topic [because] something tragic is going on in the world, like a certain movement or a certain issue in the political environment or the social environment. We hate to talk about it, but [in] our roles as influencers, we have to bring awareness to various conflicts and issues. So those are the easiest times to think of a topic when there's a big thing happening,” said Osei-Boateng.

While the topic for each episode is selected and roughly outlined ahead of time, the conservation itself is not scripted, flowing organically and feeling as if the audience was just listening to an everyday conversation between the two.

At its core Potential Excellence is about highlighting people’s potential. It’s about making people more aware of not only what they could do, but who they could be and encouraging them to pursue their potential. 

 

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Stream U.Y.P.E (#16) on all platforms! ⬇️ (A direct link is in our bio) In this podcast episode, @tevinwellington & @obriansays discuss the importance of having an opinion, the best time to share your opinion, & the positive & negatives that come with it! Please sit back, and enjoy another #UYPE episode! 🙂 #OnAMission

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Described by both himself and Wellington as a motivational speaker, Osei-Boateng brings enthusiasm and an encouraging spirit to the podcast, emphasizing the importance of openness and growth in all aspects of life when it comes to developing one’s potential.

“I hope someone can become more aware of how they're feeling about their lives, instead of going through the motions and just pushing all the hate and negativity down. I hope someone could become a lot more open-minded about certain topics that are going on and take the time to just really take in what's going on and . . . what they could do to help while also building the best version of themselves in that process,” explained Osei-Boateng.

Described by both himself and Osei-Boateng as being knowledgeable about a wide range of topics and interested in the art of conversation, Wellington is often the facilitator of the conversation, asking the questions to encourage reflection and further thought.

“I want someone to walk away with the ability to understand that I have my opinion, I have my way of seeing things, but that does not automatically mean that my way of seeing things is correct. That does not automatically discount other views and whenever you're in a conversation, whenever you're talking about something you should always be willing to accept that there is a possibility . . . that you could be wrong. You should always be willing to accept that and you should never sacrifice a good conversation, the opportunity to learn, for the sake of being correct,” explained Wellington.

Though they may seem to be approaching the podcast from different angles, their strengths complement each other well and have helped them to create something that is authentic and thoughtful as well as informative and uplifting.

 

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Sometimes, people face the struggles of adjusting to the next chapter of their lives, because there was a major lack of proper preparation & a weak foundation. Please take time every day to grow as a human, to not only prepare for your future, but to excel in it

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It’s important for the pair that they are not only helping people to recognize their potential but also that their audience comes away with what they were looking for. They recognize that different people at different points in their life will be looking for different things and they hope they’re able to provide whatever is, especially during these difficult times.

“Depending on the mindset you're in, if you're feeling more melancholic at a point in time, you obviously lean more to the motivational side of the podcast as opposed to the actual social aspect and opinionated sides of the podcast,” said Wellington.

Potential Excellence is a wonderful example of not only what good conversation looks like, but also the power that kind conversation has and the ways in which it can be used to encourage and inform people.

Photos C/O Richard Zazulak

The big question going into the men’s volleyball semi-final match was whether or not the Queen’s University Gaels would topple the McMaster Marauders for the second year in a row. Having previously bested them in last year's Forsyth Cup, everyone was wondering how this year's semi-final matchup would go.

Last year's loss was very close, with the Marauders almost pulling away with the win. There were plenty of chances for McMaster to come back, but they ultimately fell short and had their six-year win streak taken down.

Last year's loss was very close, with the Marauders almost pulling away with the win. There were plenty of chances for McMaster to come back, but they ultimately fell short and had their six-year win streak taken down.

When the tournament was set with McMaster gaining home-court advantage after blowing out the Nippissing Lakers, everyone’s ears perked up when word spread that they would be taking on the Gaels at home. 

This gave McMaster a massive advantage, playing in front of a lively Burridge Gym gave the impression that Mac would undoubtedly have the upper hand. At first, it looked like they did.

McMaster went into the first set blazing hot and fought off a strong Queen’s effort to seal off a close win at 25-23. Queen’s, however, was not going to stay in the losing column for long. After falling in the first set by a small margin, they entered the second with determination.

McMaster went into the first set blazing hot and fought off a strong Queen’s effort to seal off a close win at 25-23. Queen’s, however, was not going to stay in the losing column for long. After falling in the first set by a small margin, they entered the second with determination.

Queen’s would go on to win the next two sets with a blazing offence. They won the second set 25-17 and the third set 25-18. Even in the face of these strong performances and being one set away from securing their spot at the finals, McMaster wasn’t going down without a fight.

McMaster won the next set, but it was a hard-fought battle. Mac gave everything they could to get to a 26-24 win, leaving the match tied in set victories. This led the teams to a dramatic tie-breaker set, where the first team to 15 would advance forward and claim the win. 

Queen’s quickly pulled up in front with five straight points. Unfortunately, their early lead was a preview of how the rest of the set was going to go. McMaster fell in a really close match, leading them to play in the bronze medal game against the University of Guelph Gryphons.

This match may have held more significance than the Queen’s rematch. Whoever won the bronze would have been given the last chance at a USports National championship run.

In the bronze medal match, which took place March 7, the Marauders had something to prove—and boy did they do just that. They swept the Gryphons in three straight sets, claiming the bronze medal and a trip to the U Sports national championship. Unfortunately, following recent public health regulations amidst growing coronavirus concerns, the national championship has been cancelled

In the bronze medal match, which took place March 7, the Marauders had something to prove—and boy did they do just that. They swept the Gryphons in three straight sets, claiming the bronze medal and a trip to the U Sports national championship. Unfortunately, following recent public health regulations amidst growing coronavirus concerns, the national championship has been cancelled

Official statement on the 2020 U SPORTS Volleyball Championships. pic.twitter.com/Uojzxxqp4E

— U SPORTS (@USPORTSca) March 13, 2020

Had the Marauders run into Queen’s again during nationals, the matchup could have easily developed into one of the most interesting storylines of the tournament.

 

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Photos C/O Kevin Mackinnon

Banner season is in full effect with the second weekend in a row of Ontario University Athletics championships. While wrestling had their chance last week, this week was the McMaster Swimming program’s turn to bring home some medals. The University of Toronto Varsity Blues having dominated the year prior, leaving the Championships with multiple banners. This year, the question remained, have they still got it? The marauders looked to challenge the reigning title holders and compete for the number one position. Coming off a strong divisional sweep of the OUA Debray division in the divisional championships, the maroon and grey had good reason to be positive and were hungry to win the OUA championship.

In late November during the Debray division championship, the marauders had a tremendous showing, gaining 49 individual medals and ten spots on top of the podium. This led them to win both the men’s and women’s banners for the OUA Debray division and stack the rafters. Having such strong showings in the last major OUA tournament gave the swim team a lot of confidence going into the OUA championship.

By the end of day one on Feb. 6, it seemed like the Varsity blues were going to defend their champion status with both their men’s and women’s teams on top of the standings. Even with UofT’s day one dominance, McMaster was no slouch. Not only did they come away with medal performances on day one, but our women’s team placed second and the men’s placed third in overall standings.

After a strong showing on day one, day two was marked by a women’s takeover with the marauders earning hardware in a total of five events. They received four bronze medals and a silver to cap off day two action. Unfortunately, this hot streak was not enough to hold onto second place. They fell to third as the University of Toronto stayed red hot and increased their lead by 238 points. We then  saw the Western Mustangs propel over McMaster to second place. This left McMaster and Western in an arms race for second overall at the tournament as there is no chance at catching the defending champions on day two, Feb. 7.

Mac has a fighting chance at beating Western because the men's team was only three points behind and the women's team 24 points. However the marauders did pull away with quite a few grabs at the podium on day one with a total of three medals. Cameron Johnsen received a silver for his efforts in the 100m breaststroke, Mike Dereviankin, James Potma, Louis Sharland and Kevin Bagnell received a bronze for 200m freestyle relay and Ian Mackinnon placed with a bronze in the 200m freestyle.

The men’s team collected two total medals on day two, a bronze and a silver which ultimately lead them to remain in third overall. They were three points behind the second place Waterloo Warriors. 

What was said for the women’s division is also true for the men’s, as the University of Toronto is a tidal wave in the pool. They are blowing out the competition in men’s as well, as they held their lead of 314.5 points in first place. The powerhouse that is the Varsity Blues leaves teams fighting for a shot at second and third place as first is out of the question.

At the end of the tournament McMaster was unable to bring a banner home. The University of Toronto swept both banners for the seventh time in a row leaving McMaster without the title. However, McMaster came back to Hamilton with several individual awards with Grey Fairley earning the award of coach of the year for leading the team through a strong season and just falling shy of the podium at provincials. Another notable award was Mitchell Muizelaar being acknowledged for his strong efforts all year with an OUA award of distinction.

It was another strong year for McMaster swimming but unfortunately your marauders fell short of the banner for another year.

 

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Photo by Kyle West / Sports Reporter

Connor Gilmore is a fifth-year starting forward for the Marauders. After a summer of playing professional ball for the Canadian Elite Basketball League on the Hamilton Honey Badgers, he brings a new level of professionalism and veteran experience to McMaster’s roster, which now hosts more first and second-year players than in previous years. Just above two thirds of the players are in their second year or below, while Gilmore is the only fifth year player on the team accompanied by three fourth year players. Gilmore’s tenure at McMaster and the summer he spent playing professionally taught him about playing, life and leadership, the most important lesson being about communication.

Gilmore is constantly playing at a high level when it comes to statistics, currently being the second-highest scorer on the team with 15.4 points per game. He is also the team’s leading rebounder with an average of seven rebounds per game and the second-best passer on the team with 2.6 assists per matchup. Knowing what Gilmore is capable of, and given that there are eight games left on the schedule, Gilmore’s numbers will likely be trending up.

Along with being one of the more impressive players on the team statistically, Gilmore has also embraced a leadership role on the team as one of the few veterans left. 

Having the experience of playing with six former National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 players on the Honey Badgers, Gilmore learned about his game and how to deal with big moments. He rounded out his offensive and defensive strategies, as he was playing in a taller league which left him, at 6”7’, unable to play the center position he was used to playing in the Ontario University Athletics. In his summer league, Gilmore was better suited to play small forward.

“Being with the older, more veteran guys on the team, playing with them and against them who were really good players. I feel like it made me better overall,” Gilmore said.

Not only did the stint with the Honey Badgers help him with his overall game, it also helped him when it came to big moments and maturity in the locker room by seeing how professionals conducted themselves.

“I learned that being a leader on a professional team full of guys and their egos, it’s tough to bring everyone together so you really have to be a personable guy. You have to listen to the players, understand how to approach situations with different people since everyone responds to things differently . . . you have to communicate really well,” Gilmore noted.

Hamilton’s Black and Gold made it the CEBL final, where they ended up losing to the Saskastchewan Rattlers by a slim margin of nine points. Going this deep in the CEBL playoffs taught Gilmore about longevity in the season and persistence. He applies this experience to his leadership role back at McMaster, where he is able to reassure younger players after the team experiences bad losses, for example in the case of the team’s current five-game losing streak.  Being able to see the bigger picture and learning from losses earlier in the season is a good thing, Gilmore remarked, as it is easier to recover at that point and become a stronger team than to recover from losing when it matters most.

While Gilmore brings his statistics, professional experience and winning mentality to the team, he says the most valuable thing he has learned over the past years is the importance of communication. Discussing issues, communicating frustrations, talking about the team’s faults and addressing problems immediately are what Gilmore outlined as the keys to a team’s success. 

Addressing issues right away prevents them from happening again in the next quarter, half or game. If the shot selection of the team is off, for example, reminding players  to make smarter shots at half can lead to a better finish to the game. Being mature and resolving conflicts between teammates can prevent a rift from occuring  in the locker room and on the court. Communication is key, and it grounds Gilmore’s leadership style. 

Looking to the future at McMaster, the big man is hoping to help lead the team to the playoffs alongside  Jordan Henry and Kwasi Adu-Poku, other key weapons on the roster. After this year and with his experience in the CEBL, Gilmore is setting his sights to the horizon. Whether that is playing overseas in Europe or continuing to move up the ranks in North America, the sky is truly the limit for the McMaster forward.

 

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Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

Top 5 things to look forward to in the new year in McMaster Athletics

1. Nordic Skiing

Possibly one of the more interesting stories of the year is the addition of the Nordic Skiing Program to McMaster Athletics’ arsenal of contenders for the Ontario University Athletics championship. This will be the 37th program brought to competition by McMaster and nordic skiing will have a new provincial championship introduced in February 2020. With the introduction of this program, McMaster Athletics is looking to the future and the expansion of its trophy case. It was a bold move to introduce a new sport while the David Braley Athletic centre is undergoing expansion, but McMaster Athletics has shown that they are not letting any physical barriers in facilities, or lack of snow this year, to stop them from progressing.

2. Volleyball

The Men’s Volleyball team is coming off a busy winter break. They faced top-notch competition from several teams in the United States including Ohio State University, Long Beach State University and Lewis State University. Even though they lost to their American competitors, squaring off against fierce competition will help them improve their game as they enter 2020. On the Northern side of things, McMaster took down National Championship contender Trinity Western University two days in a row. These two wins against a Canadian powerhouse is great news for the Marauders and casts the rest of the season in a bright light.

[pjc_slideshow slide_type="vollyball-jan-16-2020"]

Photos by Matty Flader / Photo Reporter

The Women’s volleyball squad is looking for another shot at a playoffs run. After falling short in the 2018-2019 season and missing the playoffs, the Marauders are looking for redemption. Currently ranked fourth in the Western division of the OUA, the race to make playoffs will come down to the wire as three teams have already clinched their berths, leaving only one spot available. On a positive note to start the second half of the season was the two blow out wins the Marauders pulled off against the Lakehead University Thunderwolves. This is a great start to January as the Women’s team gears up to play the Ryerson University Rams, who are ranked first in the OUA east, and the Brock University Badgers, ranked third in the OUA west, later this month. 

3. Basketball

[pjc_slideshow slide_type="basketball-jan-16-2020"]

Photos by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

The Women’s team is looking to defend their National Championship as they gear up for a tough second half of the season. They just lost to the fifth overall team in the nation according to U sports, in the Ryerson University Rams, the Marauders look to take down other strong contender in the Western University Mustangs and Windsor University Lancers. These games will test the Marauders during this cold January streak. 

The Rams have a sharpshooting starting lineup, and they averaged 46.5 per cent from the field in the matchup against the Marauders. The Rams’ recruiting program has led to a decade of success, where exceptional shooting has consistently remained one of the team’s strengths. That being said, the main issues for McMaster was that they were outrebounded 51 to 30 and had five more turnovers than the Rams. Cleaning up these two areas could lead to far fewer issues in the future.

U Sports ranks the McMaster Men’s Basketball team eighth overall in the country. Currently sitting in playoff contention with a record of nine wins and three losses, they look to stay strong and head to the playoffs again this year. That being said, they have a hard January in front of them, where they will be playing many top schools including the Windsor University Lancers, Western University Mustangs, Queens University Gaels and the Ryerson University Rams, with one easier matchup against Ontario Tech. Queens, Windsor, Western and Ryerson are top teams in the OUA who are looking for something to prove. In order to get by these opponents, the Marauders will have to stay consistent throughout every quarter, something they were not able to do in the last matchup against Ryerson. While the Marauders are staying strong with low turnover rates combined with a high number of takeaways, they need to clean up shot selection to make sure they stay on the high scoring streaks they are known for.

4. Expansion

In case you haven’t noticed, David Braley Athletic Centre is under expansion! The renovations mark just one of many additions to accommodate for the ever-growing student body of McMaster. DBAC’s expansion is set to create more exercise space and athletic opportunities in order to allow a greater number of students to use the facilities. If you have travelled into the depths of DBAC and the Ivor Wynne Center, then you are familiar with the out-of-date, overrun and sometimes run-down squash, basketball and Pop-up Pulse. The construction, which started this year, meant  to create a happier, healthier and more active campus.

5. Championships

The athletic year is only halfway through, and surely you remember the Yates Cup stunner, but there are so many tournaments left in the year for you to enjoy! The OUA is a vast and expansive association covering more sports than you can probably name, which means there is no shortage of exciting championships to come in 2020. Some of my favourites that you should keep an eye out for include the Critelli and Wilson Cup, both taking place on Feb. 29. The Critelli Cup, the women’s basketball championship, is looking like it will be another exciting year with many top programs performing at a high level. The path to the Wilson Cup, which is awarded to the OUA men’s basketball championship winner, is looking like it could be exciting. With several underdog contenders putting up a fight in the regular season, the cup is up for grabs to whoever wants it most. Get ready for the madness of Cup season — who knows who will be the Cinderella story this year.

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Photos by Sachi Chan / Contributor 

If you’ve been following the men’s basketball team this year, you’ll know they’ve been on a hot streak so far with a winning percentage of .750. This can in large part be attributed to Jordan Henry’s monstrous season so far.

Henry’s second-year leap resembles that of Luka Dončić’s, the latter going from All-Rookie player in the National Basketball Association and the former going from All-Rookie in the country, to doing it all and scoring at will on the court in their sophomore seasons. Henry is averaging 21.7 points per game, achieving the fourth-most PPG in the province. Even more astonishing is that Henry is only 0.2 points away from being third for PPG in the OUA. Usually, veteran players hold the top spots for PPG in the OUA. Henry is one of two players in the top five in PPG that is in their second year or below. 

He may play for U sports in Canada at the moment, but Henry also has loose ties to the NBA. He played on the same team as RJ Barrett during the 2017 U19 Fédération internationale de basket World Cup, where Canada took home the gold medal.

Henry also ranks first among the Marauders in points, assists, steals and minutes played, while also ranking in the top five for the maroon and grey in rebounds, three-point percentage, free throw percentage and field goal percentage with players who have attempted over 10 field goals.

The Marauders have nearly matched their win total from the previous season — and it’s not even halfway through the year yet. Mcmaster currently has nine wins and three losses while last year they had a sub .500 win percentage with 12 wins and 14 losses by the end of the season. 

Perhaps what is most remarkable is Henry has accounted for nearly 25 per cent of the maroon and grey’s points so far, having scored 260 points out of the team’s total of 1038. After making not only the OUA first-team All-Rookie but also the U sports first-team All-Rookie last year, it would surprise no one if our star guard made the overall U sports first team this year.

However, RJ Barrett’s former teammate is definitely not the only thing this team has going for it. Head coach Patrick Tatham and his staff have assembled a team that is not only performing at the moment, but will also blow the competition away for years to come. Looking at the roster, it’s hard not to notice that eight out of the 17 players on the team are in their second year and four are in their first year, leaving years of greatness ahead for the team. 

This could be the year the Marauders finally take home the W.P. McGee trophy. First introduced in 1963, the trophy is awarded to the top ball team across Canada’s ten provinces and three territories. However, even though it’s been around for nearly 60 years, McMaster has never been able to bring it home, even though they’ve come second five times. Our last appearance in the final game of the season was in 1998. 

Will this year be the first time in school history we take the W.P. McGee trophy? Who knows. But it’s definitely possible. Catch the team at their next game against the Western University Mustangs on Jan. 18, right at home in Burridge.

 

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Photo c/o Steve Tyas

By Andrew Fayed, Contributor

Nikolas Motruk knew that the McMaster Marauders’ men’s baseball team would come out strong in their four-game opening weekend, but even the fourth-year veteran admits that the team outperformed even their own high expectations for themselves. With an absolutely incredible 58 runs in four games, it’s safe to say that the rest of the league has been put on notice, that this year, the Marauders have come to play. 

“When I started in my first year, we had a total of four wins, and it really didn’t look promising. We had five wins the next year before we finally had a winning record at 10-8 last year which was the first time we had a winning record in five years. So, this year we definitely expected to come out stronger than ever, but maybe not quite as strong as we did,” says Motruk with a laugh. 

The four games played this past weekend came against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, the Ryerson Rams, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton University Ravens. 

“We’ve had a bit of a rivalry with them [UofT] over the past few years, last year they actually walked us off in an elimination game in the Ontario University Athletics championship, so we were definitely hungry for them. We knew we had to come out strong and set the tone for the weekend, and we scored five in the first inning,” Motruk said. 

Motruk’s performance this past weekend jumped off the stat sheet going 9-15 from the plate, with five extra base hits, and 10 runs batted in. Motruk was not only a strong player on the men’s baseball team, but it was enough for him to capture the prestigious Pita Pit Male Athlete of the Week award. Motruk credits his ability to stay calm under pressure and his confidence in his batting abilities as the keys to his monumental success.

“You can never let baseball get to your head. You always have to keep the same approach and stay confident at the plate. I went into every at bat knowing what the pitcher was going to throw at me and knowing that I had a job to do. When your team is playing well, there are always runners on base so those RBI’s are more of a team stat,” said Motruk. 

When questioned on being Male Athlete of the Week, Motruk was quick to build up his team and his sport instead of focusing on himself. 

“It’s not so much of a me thing, I just feel so good for the team that now we’re finally getting this recognition. It’s really a huge step forward for the team in general and for baseball as a university sport. Some students don’t even know that we have a baseball team, so this kind of recognition is really cool,” Motruk noted.

As a four-year veteran, Motruk has been through it all with the marauders’ baseball team. But back in his first year, Motruk was initially worried about the difference in workload from high school to university as a mechanical engineering student and was very hesitant about playing baseball for the Marauders at all. 

“I didn’t really want to play baseball at first, I thought that students were all set up to fail and the schedules were so hectic, I thought that there was no way I could do this. I have to give credit to my parents who really motivated me to give it a shot, and I joined the team. I played three innings in my first year, and that was definitely an eye-opening experience. That really motivated me, even more, to get better. I pushed myself hard over the next couple of years, and here we are today,” Motruk added.

You can see Motruk and the Marauders next on Sept. 28 as they face the Queens University Gaels and York University Lions doubleheader in Kitchener. 

Nikolas Motruk - Baseball

Nikolas Motruk (8) OF


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