The McMaster men’s baseball and rugby team lead the way in fundraising for men’s health issues 

Raising money for men’s health is an annual November initiative for athletes at McMaster University. As the end of this year's Movember campaign nears, Marauder sports teams have quietly raised over $25,000.  

The McMaster men’s baseball team and men’s rugby team spearheaded this year’s fundraising efforts, with over $11,900 and $9600 in donations respectively. In addition, the McMaster men’s volleyball team and wrestling teams fundraised over $3600 and $1100 each. Other participating teams include the McMaster rowing team, swimming team and men’s soccer team. 

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The McMaster teams primarily fundraise through the Movember campaign website. Established in 2003, the international campaign looks to allocate resources to various areas of men’s health such as mental health, testicular cancer and prostate cancer. Over $19 million was donated to men’s health projects in Canada just last year.  

Though growing a mustache and fundraising for Movember is a tradition amongst McMaster sports teams, the movement has not lost its meaning to repeat participants such as Marco Dilaudo, Maclean Van Raay, Josh Kalmain and Aiden Muldoon. 

“We just want to give back to the community and continue to support those that have been supportive to us as athletes, especially here at McMaster and abroad, while also paying respect to those that are fighting everyday to continue – whether that’s against cancer or mental health,” explained Marco Dilaudo, the first baseman for the McMaster men’s baseball team.  

We just want to give back to the community and continue to support those that have been supportive to us as athletes, especially here at McMaster and abroad, while also paying respect to those that are fighting everyday to continue – whether that’s against cancer or mental health.

Marco Dilaudo, the first baseman for the McMaster men’s baseball team

In addition to leading the baseball team’s fundraising efforts with over $2,000 raised individually, Dilaudo plans to bike 300 kilometres over the month of November – an opportunity for Dilaudo to embrace a challenge and support others that are battling illnesses in their day-to-day lives. 

“Everyone struggles with mental health in some way. Being an athlete, it becomes really stressful trying to balance school and athletics. The mental health part of it definitely plays a factor [wanting to raise money] as well,” said Maclean Van Raay, third year student and middle infielder for the McMaster men’s baseball team. 

For some McMaster athletes, raising money and awareness is especially important because of personal experiences with loved ones. Participating for his fifth in a row, Aiden Muldoon became particularly connected to the cause after experiencing the loss of his father to cancer in 2021. 

“It’s nice to know that there’s a movement for something that’s affected me so dearly [and] that it’s a movement that we can progress towards as a team. I know guys are thinking about other [teammates] that have also lost people to different illnesses. When we’re raising money, it’s good to know that it’s with a direction,” explained Muldoon, a fullback for the McMaster men’s rugby team. 

It’s nice to know that there’s a movement for something that’s affected me so dearly [and] that it’s a movement that we can progress towards as a team. I know guys are thinking about other [teammates] that have also lost people to different illnesses. When we’re raising money, it’s good to know that it’s with a direction.

Aiden Muldoon, a fullback for the McMaster men’s rugby team

As club captain for the McMaster men’s rugby, Muldoon organizes various fundraising events with other members of the team. The rugby team held a Touch 7s Rugby Tournament that took place earlier this month where all profits from the event were donated to Movember. In the past, the team has also welcomed guest speakers or held raffles to raise money

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“For us, as much as it is a serious issue, we do like to make fun of each other’s mustaches a little bit . . . It’s another way to encourage one another to not only support the cause but also support each other in raising money for a good cause,” said Kalmin, a third year student and pitcher for the baseball team. 

Along with raising awareness and fundraising, Movember is a chance for McMaster teams to bond and boost team morale. The competitive aspect that McMaster athletes bring into sport also translates into friendly competition to raise the most money. 

To learn more about the Movember movement, visit their website. To donate or keep up with the fundraising teams, visit their Instagram pages or link here.  

It’s the biggest margin of victory yet, but this time in an unfortunate Marauders loss for the Marauders women's rugby team

As the McMaster University women’s rugby team entered week five of competition, they geared up to face the Queen’s Gaels. The Gael’s hold the number one spot on the U Sports women's rugby leaderboard and are the reigning national champions. It was obvious from the get-go that it would be a tough match ahead. 

Coming into the week McMaster ranked quite highly themselves, having secured the number nine position in the U Sports ranking. They were coming off a 77 to zero win against the Laurier Golden Hawks and looked to provide a real challenge for the Gryphons. 

Unfortunately for the Marauders, they weren’t able to provide much resistance in their battle with Canada’s number one, losing by a final score of 96 to three. Following the loss, McMaster was removed from the U Sports top 10 list.  

Facing a top ranked team has proven to be a challenge for most teams.  The top five ranked teams have yet to be beaten.

Katie Mcleod, the captain of the women’s team, discussed how difficult it can be facing teams like the Gaels and the strategy that goes along with these big games to ensure the team keeps on moving forward. 

“We’ve been focusing on setting goals going into games. Not necessarily score focused goals, but systems goals,” said Mcleod. 

“We’ve been focusing on setting goals going into games. Not necessarily score focused goals, but systems goals,” 

Katie Mcleod, Captain of women's rugby team

She noted her team seemed to know this game would result in a defeat, showing the importance of goal setting to continue measuring progress regardless of the outcome. 

“Going into our Queen’s game, we kind of knew it would be a loss,” explained Mcleod.  

The game ended going in the way of the Gaels, as was apparently anticipated. Mcleod was the lone scorer for the Marauders.  

But why do these scores keep occurring? How do these substantial margins continue to happen game after game and for every team, not just McMaster?  

“It comes down to the legacy that teams have developed. Some teams have full time head coaches, which provides for better recruitment,” said Mcleod. 

This message seems to ring true, seeing the recent scores throughout the league. It also makes sense that stronger players recruited to only certain schools would lend itself to the creation of uneven scores. Though it looks like McMaster is trying to compete with these top ranked teams with the addition of head coach Chris Jones and his coaching staff

“Now that we’ve gotten a new coaching staff, I know that recruitment has become something more on the radar. Hopefully in a few years we can be at a higher level,” explained Mcleod. 

Looking to finish the season strong, the Marauders women's rugby team will face York and Brock to wrap up the season. It will become very important for the team to keep their focus on the season ahead, despite the prospect of a promising future they may already be looking forward to. 

While Marauders grabbed a huge win over Laurier, it’s another example of the lopsided scores being seen around the league

The women’s rugby season is now two weeks into play and the Marauders just took on the Laurier Golden Hawks for their season home opener. After a win against Trent in the teams first game and a loss against Guelph in the team’s second game, the team had the opportunity to finally host a team on their home turf

Looking to get back on track following their loss last time out, the first home game of the season was highly anticipated for the team. Newly named head coach Chris Jones was also very eager for this game, as it would be his first ever home game with the team. 

“There was a lot of energy and excitement,” said Jones. 

The women’s team also took the opportunity to host a number of events during their season home opener to offer the opportunity for some interaction with those attending the game. These events also added further excitement for the team and the community heading in the game, creating a more fun environment altogether. 

“It ended up being our alumni day and we also had about 12 recruits out playing a touch game before with some of the alumni,” explained Jones. 

The excitement surrounding the game seemed to spur the team to a massive win. The Marauders beat their opponents by 77 points and maintained a complete shut out. In fact, it took just a minute and a half for the Marauders to gain their first points.  

As great a result this is for the Marauders though, it's almost impossible to ignore such wide gaps that exist between teams in the same conference. The Marauders lost 86-5 to Guelph the week before this game. Looking at the other side of the field, the Golden Hawks suffered an 84 to nothing loss to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues the weekend prior as well. 

The league has seen no team lose by a margin of seven points or less thus far in the season. Jones credited the lopsided scores to a lack of funding and involvement by schools. 

“When there is funding available through different resources and avenues, such as alumni or other things, you’re able to put more priority on the team and get the results you want,” said Jones.  

“When there is funding available through different resources and avenues, such as alumni or other things, you’re able to put more priority on the team and get the results you want,”

CHris Jones, Head Coach

McMaster’s team seems to have the funding and resources to succeed. They’ve re-entered the U SPORTS top ten ranking after they defeated Laurier but Jones still hopes that the gap between teams closes and creates a more competitive environment. 

“It's always better for everybody if the competition is even. It helps to create better games and helps players to develop,” explained Jones. 

“It's always better for everybody if the competition is even. It helps to create better games and helps players to develop,”

Chris Jones, Head Coach

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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Key updates from McMaster sports over the past week

So much happened in McMaster sports over reading week, that catching up on school work might not be the only thing you missed over the break. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most important things that happened in sports over the break.

Women’s Rugby

The women’s rugby team had an outstanding run. Combining the results of their final two games of the regular season and the quarterfinals of the OUA championship, they outscored their opponents 196-5. In the quarterfinals they beat the Trent University Excalibur women’s team 71-0 to advance to the semifinals, where they ultimately fell to the Guelph University Gryphons. They then won the bronze medal match scoring 41 points to the Brock University Badgers’ three. This year marks the third year in a row where the McMaster women’s rugby team has secured a bronze medal.

Of note, Alissa Zhang, a member of our women’s rugby team, was awarded the Shiels Division Community Service Award for providing great services to our community. The Shiels division is home to five teams in total, including Queen’s University, University of Guelph, Brock University and The University of Western Ontario. Zhang has volunteered with the McMaster Children’s Hospital and at the Rotman Research Institute. She also founded GirlsZone, a program that aims to get young girls into science.

Cross Country

The cross country team held onto their number two ranking in the nation, a ranking that they have held since the start of the month. This was after their recent win at the Bayfront Open where, not only did the team place first but, Marauders Alex Drover and Sergio Raez-Villanueva took home individual gold and bronze medals respectively. The bayfront open provides a preview as to how the team may perform when they host the Ontario University Athletics championship on Oct. 26.

Football

After a seventh place national ranking, the football team dropped to ninth a week later. This was in part due to the Marauders’ loss to the Carleton University Ravens, accounting for their second loss of the season. Their record currently stands at five wins and two losses. In the final game of the regular season, the Marauders beat the University of Waterloo Warriors 31-14. This pushed their record to six wins and two losses, securing a first-round bye in the OUA playoffs, which gives them an advantage as they get a week of extra rest and guaranteed spot in the semi-finals. Their next game is also the OUA semifinals, which will take place on Nov. 2.

McMaster Hall of Fame

On Oct. 19, McMaster honoured six former student-athletes into our hall of fame. The honorees included Lindsey Sutherland, James Pottinger, Jeremy Sparrow, Nicole Pirko and Dan and Mike Pletch. Sutherland was a key piece of the women’s basketball team that won OUA titles in 2006 and 2008. Pottinger led the defence on McMaster’s back to back Yates cup title wins in 2002 and 2003. Not only did he see great success at the university level, but Pottinger was also selected second overall at the 2006 Canadian National Football league draft. Sparrow won a total of 20 medals at the OUA championships, 10 of which were gold. He also collected 10 medals at the national level, three of which were gold, in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union, which is now referred to as the U sports championships. Pirko is a key symbol of women’s squash at McMaster. She was the first-ever student in school history to win gold at the OUA championships in 1999. Pirko also took home bronze medals at the OUA championships in 1998 and 2001. Finally, identical twins Dan and Mike Pletch were inducted for their efforts on the men’s rugby team. They contributed to four OUA title-winning seasons. Dan was a finalist for the Ivor Wynne award, McMaster’s male athlete of the year award, in 2005 and 2006. Mike won the award in 2007. Their accomplishments didn’t stop there, with both of them playing for Team Canada in the 2007 rugby world cup.

Photos by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor 

Tyler Gagne is a fourth-year centre on the McMaster men’s rugby team. He plays an instrumental role on the team, not only through his strong defensive presence, but also through his role on the team leadership group with five other players. This group includes veteran players Tyler Gagne, Clay Pendakis, Ryan Matthews, Jack McRogers, Cole Brown and club captain Megh Rathod. 

In their season opener, Gagne had a pair of tries which led to him having one of the top performances that game. Even with his success, Gagne remained humble and highlighted key performances from the rest of the team. 

“I just go out there and do what I can for the team,” Gagne said. “It always feels good to have a game like that, but a couple of other guys had great games in that game too it wasn’t just me. Our whole team played really well, it’s hard to pick one performance out.”

This year will be one where the men’s rugby team plays their heart out. They have an outstanding team and are determined to leave an impression on Ontario University Athletics rugby. 

“We believe we can medal. We believe we should go five-one based on the season [and] hopefully we can win all six. Other than that play the best rugby we can, enjoy it and have a great year,” Gagne said.

One of the defining contributions to the success of the team is team culture. The maroon and grey challenge the idea of a traditional team in the sense that they are more than a group of highly-skilled individuals who play a sport together. Of course, they do fit that mold, but they are also a family.  

“The team we have is one of the best I’ve ever played on. All the guys are super close. There are no disputes on the team, no conflicts, everyone just loves each other and we go out there and play the best rugby we can. Which really helps on the field obviously,” Gagne added.

Growing together and knowing when to put the team ahead of their own needs has been instrumental to their success. 

“I’m one of the older guys on the team, I’m in fourth year. There are a couple of other fourth years on the team, not too many but we’ve been together all four years and all the guys we’ve been coming up with have bought into the system and we’ve all come together to be a great team. It’s easy when guys come into the team and buy right in right away,” Gagne said, “It’s super easy to get along with everybody. Nobody has too big of an ego which is nice and we all get along really well and it’s a great culture.”

One of the main things that sets apart the men’s rugby team is their unique but effective approach to leadership. Having multiple people share the load of guidance brings along many advantages. For example, communication on and off the field can be more coordinated. Simply put, it is a strategy that seems to be working wonders for the marauders. For their next game they will take on Trent University on Sep. 21 where they look to improve their record to two wins and one loss. 

 

Tyler Gagne - Men's Rugby

Tyler GagneCentre

 

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Photo C/O Noah Hoffman

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvxZ6ElAhq6/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

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! 🎉
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.#GoMacGo pic.twitter.com/z8JfEMFShd

— 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.

 

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Photos from Silhouette Photo Archives

Rugby season at McMaster is officially over. As teams pack up their cleats, it’s time to assess their past season and plan for the challenges ahead. For the Marauders’ men’s rugby team, the 2018 season ends without a medal, despite coming off an Ontario University Athletics Bronze Medal last year.

However, that does not mean this season was a failure for the program, as there were several changes made to the team that have set up the team for success in the near future. One big change for the men’s rugby team was how they approached their training camp and the implementation of their playbook, moving to a problem-based learning method.

“It was very high-intensity. I think it's what we needed,” fourth-year Mitchell Richardson said. “If you want to play in the OUA and you want your team to do well, I think you have to practice like you play and play like you practice. I think [coach Dan Pletch]'s practices and training camp where exactly that, which helped us win a couple of games this season.”

Character Building Weather #risengrind @McMasterSports pic.twitter.com/K75keimA0K

— McMaster Men's Rugby (@MacRugbyMen) October 1, 2018

Richardson has been a mainstay of the men’s rugby team over the last four seasons, anchoring the team at the fly-half/centre role and a name you would regularly see in game reports. The veteran was one of four key players that made up the team’s leadership group this past season, along with Jack McRogers, Jamie McNaughton and Brett Sullivan.

“We're there to provide a leadership role to the team, not just in a rugby sense, but in school and a mental state as well,” Richardson said. “We're there both on and off the field.”

Taking on this leadership role in his second year, Richardson has found this position on the team to be an extremely beneficial experience at a personal level.

“It's really helped me as a person because I think it gave me a few things that I didn't think I had,” Richardson said. “Being a vocal leader, having guys look up to you… it's a really cool thing to be a part of.”

Thanks @UofT for a brave battle @McMasterSports pic.twitter.com/HxasPLpdnp

— McMaster Men's Rugby (@MacRugbyMen) October 13, 2018

The team hoped to collect some more hardware in 2018, and it looked like they had a chance after a 4-4 regular season. Unfortunately, the men lost to the Wilfred Laurier University Golden Hawks in the OUA quarter-finals. Despite the early exit, there is a lot to be positive about for the program.

“I think the season went well. I mean we are a very young team, mixed with a few older guys. So if anything, it's more of a developing year,” Richardson said. “It's really good to see new faces come in, and only gives you a better idea of a brighter future to come. I think in the next two to three years, Mac's going to be a powerhouse again.”

Richardson still counts the team’s quarter-final loss to be a highlight of his season, a game in which the team showed the grit and perseverance that characterized them throughout his tenure.

“I think the last game, when we were at Laurier and we are up at half, we kind of fell down but never gave up,” Richardson said. “I think that was kind of my highlight of the season, just playing to the final whistle, even in our last game.”

[spacer height="20px"]For Richardson, who had been eyeing the McMaster program since he was in high school in Stoney Creek, he will always remember his time at Mac fondly.

“It's amazing. Couldn't have pictured it any other way,” Richardson said about his time at Mac. “It was an amazing experience… I would say the best years of my life to this day. Getting to learn off Dan Pletch… and then making new friends. I have best friends now on this team. And then getting to provide that leadership role for the younger guys that came in this year.”

Although his time on Back 10 Field is over, Richardson is far from done with the game of rugby. Richardson will be on the roster of the Toronto Arrows Rugby Club, Canada’s first professional rugby team to join Major League Rugby.

Although statistically this season may not have gone as the men’s rugby team had hoped, it is clear that the culture of the team has formed a strong foundation for what’s to come. With players like Richardson moving on, there will be holes to fill, but the impact he and other team leaders have made will surely remain.

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Photos by Catherine Goce

By Adriana Skaljin

Sara Svoboda has been playing for the McMaster women’s rugby team for the past five years, and has reached the end of her university career.

While playing for the rugby team, off the field, Svoboda has been busy completing a degree in Kinesiology, a subject that has been helpful for her even outside of the classroom.

“Kinesiology teaches you about the importance of cognitive and physical breaks, which is complementary to playing rugby,” Svoboda said.

She has described her time on the rugby team as one that brought balance into her life, and emphasized the importance of doing everything in moderation.

“I have learned so much through the camaraderie of the sport,” Svoboda said. “It tends to get a bad rep because it is so physical, but it is one of the sports [in which] I encountered the most respectful and all-around great people. Having sport as an outlet allows me to uplift any bad days, whether it is stepping onto the field or seeing my teammates."

Svoboda has had the chance of playing with both of her sisters, fifth-year flanker Katie and second-year fly-half Tia, on the McMaster team. This is her twin sister Katie’s final year on the team as well, who plays on the back row with Sara.

“Katie has been a huge part of both my team and my own success in rugby,” said Svoboda. “Having a twin is like having a biologically perfect training partner to rely on.”

Svoboda was ecstatic when her younger sister, Tia, moved from playing rugby in British Columbia to McMaster, getting the chance to play with both of her sisters who were already mainstays of the Marauders lineup.

“Seeing my younger sister develop as a player has been exciting,” Svoboda said. “She is only in her second year, but plays fly-half, so she fills a major role. It is cool to see her step into a leadership role and follow her guidance.”

At their last McMaster practice, Svoboda noticed Tia getting emotional; realizing that the three sisters’ time together on the Marauders was coming to an end.

Throughout the regular season, coach Tim Doucette used checkpoint conversations to look at the team’s progress. When entering the playoff season, he emphasized that this was no longer a test, and that the team needed to execute their game plan.

“We internalized what he said and switched to a mindset that focused on having heart and grit,” said Svoboda.

The Marauders effectively implemented this game plan, and finished third in the Shiels division by the end of the regular season. Mac followed up their strong finish with a dominant quarterfinal win, beating the Wilfred Laurier University Golden Hawks 109-0.


Unfortunately, the Marauders would go on to lose against Queen’s University in the semifinals, just falling short in a close 29-24 contest. Despite this heart-breaking loss, Svoboda still classifies it as their best game.

“We weren’t happy with our result when we played [Queen’s] on our home field earlier in the regular season,” Svoboda said. “We executed our game plan and pulled off a better performance this time around.”

In their Bronze Medal match on Oct. 19, the Marauders put on another authoritative win, this time rolling over the Brock University Badgers 59-5; sealing the Bronze Medal for the home team.

Women's Rugby -- FINAL: The Marauders repeat as the @ouasport bronze medalists, defeating the @brockbadgers 59-5! #GoMacGo

— McMaster Athletics (@McMasterSports) 20 October 2018

This game was a strong end to Svoboda’s final season with McMaster. Reflecting upon her time as a Marauder, Svoboda expressed her gratitude to both her parents and her teammates.

“Coach Tim always stresses that after the game, we clap to the stands,” explained Svoboda. “Like most parents, mine have never missed a game and are the most supportive fans.”

Each year, the women’s rugby coach implants a word into the player’s heads. This season, Doucette created the hashtag #HFOR, which stands for “Here For One Reason.”

“This really resonated with me and my teammates, because no matter [your age], McMaster women’s rugby has always been about playing for each other and creating an inclusive environment both on and off of the field,” Svoboda said. “We have preserved a culture that stresses inclusivity, whether it be in terms of sexual orientation, ethnicity or background. I am honoured to have been part of such a wonderful community.”

“I am grateful to have been able to inspire the next generation of women to get involved with such a rewarding sport,” Svoboda added.

Over five years with McMaster athletics, women’s rugby star Sara Svoboda has developed as both an individual and a rugby player, with the help of her family and teammates. Mac’s famed number eight will always remember gathering on the field beside her fellow Marauders after a game, and seeing all of their fans and families in the stands.

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Photo by Kyle West

While many of us were “studying” (it’s fine if you didn’t study, no judgement here) this past reading week, many McMaster athletes were busy competing in their last few regular season games. Here are four key things you may have missed during the reading week.

1. The Mac women’s rugby team started their reading week off on fire, defeating the Wilfred Laurier University Golden Hawks 109-0 in their Ontario University Athletics quarter-final playoff game on Oct. 5. Unfortunately for them, their championship dreams came to an end less than a week later, when they played the Queen’s University Gaels. Scoring their first try in the seventh minute, the Gaels pulled away with a 29-24 victory. But the season is not over yet for Mac. They will host the Brock University Badgers for one last game to determine who will win the OUA bronze medal, this Friday night at Ron Joyce Stadium. [spacer height="20px"]

2. The Marauders football team started off their reading week on a good note, finding themselves back in the U Sports top 10 rankings at No. 9, following a three-game winning streak. With the return of running back Justice Allin, the Marauders just managed to pull away with a win against the Gaels on Oct. 5. Their hopes of extending their streak to four weeks came to an end after the University of Waterloo Warriors outlasted them in a 34-16 loss. Up next, their last game of the season will be against the University of Windsor Lancers this Saturday at 1:00 pm.

#OUA FBALL

2nd and long? No problem for @McMasterSports, as Andreas Dueck connects with Tommy Nield for the first down and more to put the visitors up 11-9 over the @WlooWarriors!#WeAreONE | #MACvsWAT pic.twitter.com/uKnzlItpSf

— OUA (@OUAsport) 13 October 2018

3. The McMaster men’s cross-country team entered the national rankings at number two during the break, while the women secured the ninth-place spot. The Marauders hosted the Bayfront Open for the second time during the weekend, and saw success once again. Leading the pack, the men’s team won the team title by a 29-point margin, while the women took home bronze.[spacer height="20px"]

4. Both the men and women’s soccer teams remained dominant during the break. The men beat the Badgers 1-0 on Oct. 6, while the women beat them 2-1. By the end of the game, women’s forward Stephanie Roberts became the province’s fourth-leading scorer, with a total of nine goals, just two behind the OUA-leader, Gaels’ Jenny Wolever. The following weekend, the women were able to tie their match against the Waterloo Warriors 1-1, while the men dominated the Warriors in a 3-1 victory.

Men's Soccer -- The Marauders put three past the Warriors on Alumni Day Saturday, keeping hold of third in the @OUAsport West. #GoMacGo https://t.co/BlAirhYopI

— McMaster Athletics (@McMasterSports) 14 October 2018

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