Photo: ℅ Stephen Narancic
Four local high school teammates all commit to McMaster for 2021-2022 school year
Recruitment is a fundamental task for any university sports team looking for sustained success. It’s common to see recruits from all over the province, as well as the odd recruit from outside of Ontario, and sometimes outside of Canada. What’s uncommon however is to find multiple recruits from the same school.
The Marauders ended up making that uncommon event a reality after successfully recruiting four players all from the same high school, St. John Henry Newman in Hamilton. Meech Duffield, Victor Bodi, Michael Hampson and Stephen Narancic will all be attending McMaster next season.
Victor Bodi, a 5’9” defensive back, will find more familiar faces than just his high school teammates when playing for the Marauders next season, as he joins his brother Drake Bodi, who is currently a second year defensive back.
Moving to the offensive end, the six-foot 275-pound big man Michael Hampson will be joining the offensive line. Hampson is known as a strong leader, as he captained his high school team in his senior year. He looks forward to making a difference by way of being a strong team player, and is excited for the opportunity to learn from McMaster’s coaching staff.
Describing the kind of person and player that he is, Duffield spoke to his communication abilities, and leadership. He called himself very outgoing, and a people person who enjoys being there to support the guys. He is excited to move on to the next level together with his high school teammates and is looking forward to digging his roots in the McMaster community, getting the chance to meet other players and become a better player.
“It’s awesome just being comfortable with the guys around you, it’s super important. I think it’s great that we all came together, we’re all friends, we all support each other on and off the field. . . It’s those building blocks. You go there with a few friends and you start building off that, meeting new people, finding new friends. It’s a blessing,” said Duffield.
One of the main reasons Duffield ended up deciding one McMaster was the people that came with it. From the players he would join, to the coaches he would learn from, it's the people that made up McMaster football that he most looked forward to when making his decision.
“Something I really find important is the people there. I think the guys at McMaster and the coaching staff is just one of a kind. Everyone is great, everybody is there to build each other up, it’s just incredible. . . The defensive philosophies that the coaches were telling me about, and where I’d fit in the defensive schemes, that also played a huge role in me choosing McMaster,” explained Duffield.
Upon committing to McMaster, Duffield felt a sense of relief now that the selection process was over, as well as a sense of excitement towards the next steps. He is very eager to finally get his Marauders experience started.
“I’m always looking for what’s next. What more can I do? Who can I reach out to? Who can I talk to? I’m really looking forward to meeting all the guys in person, going over playbooks, [and] training,” said Duffield.
With a team and coaching staff just one season removed from a provincial title, and several high school teammates joining him on the team, Duffield has lots to look forward to. Another notable opportunity for him is the chance to continue playing alongside his godbrother, Stephen Narancic.
“I’ve known him since I was born, so it’s cool that we’re both ending up at the same school trying to pursue our dreams together,” said Narancic.
Narancic, like Duffield, is extremely eager to finally get his start at McMaster. Similarly, he was sold on McMaster by way of the culture the team carried, and the closeness of the team through and through.
“A lot of coaches tried to sell you on the program, and outside stuff of football, but with Mac they really sold you on the family aspect of it, and how everyone’s a tight knit group. You can see that on visits, and that made my decision really easy,” explained Narancic.
For Narancic, this is more than just moving on to the next level in his football career, but father a lifelong dream come true. As a Hamilton native who has a history with McMaster, he always hoped to one day find himself playing for the Marauders.
“My parents went to Mac, so I used to go to games when I was younger. I saw the maroon and white and thought ‘that would be so cool one day.’ Finally when I got to talk to coach [Stefan] Ptaszek and coach [John] Parks as well, they talked me through what they envisioned for me in the future. It was a dream come true to be honest,” said Narancic.
To join a team he grew up watching alongside several of his high school teammates was a very special thing for Narancic. Being such a rare occasion to be moving on to the next level with so many guys, it is something he looks at with a lot of excitement going into next season.
“You don’t get that a lot. You usually get one, maybe two kids from the same school, but to have four? It’s incredible. They’re all really good buddies of mine, so we all looked at each other when we got to visit, and [we thought] this is something we want to do,” explained Narancic.
After what was largely considered to be a disappointing year for the reigning Yates Cup champions, they will have a lot to look forward to next season. With the recruitment of motivated individuals who already have chemistry together, the team will look to redirect themselves in the 2022 season with a blend of experienced veterans, and what looks to be an advanced group of early year athletes.