The night of April 2 was the 95th Annual McMaster Athletic Awards Ceremony to celebrate Marauder excellence. The ceremony celebrated McMaster athletes and staff contributions on and off the court over the past year.
The highest honour, the McMaster Athletes of the Year, was awarded to Max Turek (Ivor Wynne Award) of the cross country team, and Linnaea Harper (Therese Quigley Award) of the women’s basketball team. Both led their team to Ontario University Athletics titles, and Harper went one step further, helping bring home the U Sports title for her team.
Graduating seniors Hilary Hanaka, starting guard of the women’s basketball team, and Andrew Richards, men's volleyball’s starting left side, took home the outstanding graduating student-athlete awards, the Dr. Edna Guest and Dr. Ray Johnson Awards, respectively.
Both athletes have displayed outstanding on- and off-court excellence. Richards and Hanaka had already been recognized by U Sports for their community work this season, so it was only fitting that they took home this honour as well.
McMaster's Rookies of the Year award the Mel and Marilyn Hawkrigg Award, was given to lacrosse player Mitch Pellarin and wrestler Ligaya Stinellis. Stinellis captured a silver medal in the 48kg weight class in her first trip to the OUA Championships, and made McMaster history by becoming the first Marauder woman to win the conference’s Rookie of the Year award.
Pellarin ended the season as McMaster’s leading scorer with 19 goals and 11 assists, which was the highest scoring total among rookies in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association.
Claudia Continenza, of the women’s soccer team, took home the Les Prince Award for her community service work, and women's hockey president and student therapist Laura Gelowitz won the Bruce Cochrane award for her service to the Athletics Department.
The Joyce Wignall Award, given to a team in recognition of their charitable contributions as a group, was given to the McMaster men’s rugby team for their various charitable efforts throughout the year.
Last night #MarauderNation gathered to celebrate a fantastic year full of great accomplishments by our student-athletes, both on and off the field. Here’s a recap of how the night went down! Thanks to all that attended! 🎉
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) April 3, 2019
The night of celebrating excellence was capped off by awarding 51 team MVPs from McMaster's sport teams at the varsity and club level, student-athletes who have competed for four seasons while maintaining good academic standing and coaches who have reached benchmarks in their years of service.
All in all, whether athletes had their their season cut short, or managed to come out on top as provincial or national champions, the annual Awards Ceremony once again rightfully honoured the hard work put in by all the various members of the Marauders athletic community over the past year.
By: Coby Zucker
Looking at the McMaster men’s basketball roster, the word “young” comes to mind, as nine of the 16 players on this year’s squad are rookies. With the addition of third-years Damiann Prehay and Yaw Antwi-Boasiako, and the return of Connor Gilmore, only four current players were on the roster last year.
Despite solid contributions from core veterans Matt Quiring and David McCulloch, this drastically different roster makes it is easy to see how top contenders might overlook the team. Even still, despite the youthful lineup, the Marauders are not interested in taking the path of least resistance and slapping the “growth” and “rebuilding” tags on the season.
🏀 FINAL: McCulloch's 23 points leads the way, as @MacMensBball pulls away in the fourth quarter to record the 97-80 win over Guelph!
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) January 12, 2019
“Yeah, I know that there’s a lot of first-years,” said junior forward, Kwasi Adu-Poku. “But at the same time, I’m feeling like this is a really good chance for us to do something big. We wouldn’t really see it as a growth year because [head coach Patrick Tatham] brought in a lot of people who are ready to work, ready to go hard, already have a good idea of how to play and everything.”
Coach Tatham’s confidence in his rookies certainly shows. Freshman guards Tristan Lindo, Sefa Otchere and Jordan Henry are averaging 26.1, 20.3 and 25.6 minutes per game respectively, accounting for 28.2 points per game together.
The confidence is paying off, and the rookies are looking to keep up the trust and continue to earn the right to lengthy minutes in their first season of university-level play.
“[Coach Tatham] expects me to be more aggressive, play with confidence, be solid defensively and offensively, and just play with a lot of heart and effort,” said Otchere.
For Otchere, despite his solid numbers in the first half of the season, the adjustment to university ball has taken time.
“You want to do a lot of things because you’re not used to this level yet,” Otchere added. “But just trying to more composed, more relaxed, just understanding you don’t need to rush, everything will just come to me on the court.”
The amount of inexperience within the Marauder’s system has also catapulted the few returning players into leadership positions. Adu-Poku, only in his third year, is already finding himself in the veteran role.
“It’s a bit weird to process at times,” said Adu-Poku, “because I still feel like I’m pretty young myself. When I come into practice and see a lot of first-year guys kind of eager to learn, I realize I could at least give them a bit of mentorship in that respect. So I’m realizing that I’m more of a leader than I think I am.”
Adu-Poku was also quick to stress that leadership spots are not just doled out to the players who have been in the system the longest.
“I think with [coach Tatham’s] culture right now… I think he’s just really trying to show that anyone can be a leader in the sense that, if you’re willing to step up and fit the idea of what he wants to get done and just do what you do best, he’ll use you as someone that people could get advice from,” Adu-Poku explained.
In all, there is a pervasive sense that this Marauders squad, containing the few core veterans supported by a cast of motivated rookies, are still more than capable of putting together a strong campaign.
While the dominant Carleton University and Ryerson University teams might still be out of reach for the time being, the Marauders continue to gain university-level experience and build chemistry. Only getting better, the Mac men will look to continue to prove they are capable of knocking down teams previously thought to be well beyond striking distance as the season progresses.