Mac women’s water polo team continue annual Motionball fundraiser during COVID-19

Graphic by Sybil Simpson, Production Editor

In 2020, the McMaster women’s water polo team helped raise over $33,000 in their annual motionball fundraiser to send athletes with intellectual disabilities to the Special Olympics. Now with the pandemic, they have continued their fundraising efforts in a more creative fashion.

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Motionball supports young people who have intellectual disabilities, including (but not limited to) autism, Asperger syndrome and Down syndrome. These athletes are working hard to raise funds and help these families succeed in sending their athletes to the Special Olympics.

“Normally motionball is a one-day event where people fundraise. Then we have the event, receive all the donations and we’re done. Now it’s a month-long and full of events,” said Samantha Campione, a student ambassador at the DeGroote School of Business who is involved with motionball.

“Normally Motionball is a one-day event where people fundraise. Then we have the event, receive all the donations and we’re done. Now it’s a month-long and full of events,” said Samantha Campione.

The bigger challenge for the event stems from the social distancing guidelines put in place during the pandemic. This means that donors and the athletes cannot meet face-to-face.

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“People can’t meet their special olympic athlete, which makes it a lot harder to bond with them and get to know the intricacies and wonderful qualities of the athlete . . . It’s definitely harder for fundraising and for event planning, but what I worry about the most with COVID is people not getting the full experience with the athlete,” said Campione.

It may be harder to raise funds this year between the limited fundraising opportunities, the financial crunch many have gone through resulting from the pandemic and the limited interaction between the donors and the athletes, yet there are other ways for people to help. 

“I have just been asking everybody if they can just share and spread the word. Even if you can’t donate, the more you get the word out about it is honestly the best. As much as fundraising really supports the event and the people who are a part of it, the awareness is one of the biggest parts of it as well. We just want people to know about it and the more people that do know about it, the more that we will reach other people and we’ll be able to get more people involved,” said Paige Hamilton, a second-year athlete on the women’s water polo team.

“I have just been asking everybody if they can just share and spread the word. Even if you can’t donate, the more you get the word out about it is honestly the best. As much as fundraising really supports the event and the people who are a part of it, the awareness is one of the biggest parts of it as well. We just want people to know about it and the more people that do know about it, the more that we will reach other people and we’ll be able to get more people involved,” said Paige Hamilton.

Whether or not the team reaches their fundraising goal of $27,000 this year, the team wants to make sure the message is heard and that those in their community are aware of what they are working towards. 

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The motionball events will take place through the month of March with weekly events throughout. Students who sign-up will still have the opportunity to meet with the athletes being supported in the planned events and games during the month. For additional information on Motionball McMaster, check the official website here.

Photo C/O Sevran Mammadov

By: Graham West

After a tremendous end to the season in which the men’s water polo team won bronze and the women’s water polo team finished fifth at the Ontario University Athletics tournament, the team looks to have a great season ahead next year, guided by the water polo OUA Coach of the Year Quinn Fairley.

This is the fourth time coach Fairley has received this award, and when asked about what winning coach of the year meant to the venerated coach’s response was quick to point out how much the team was involved in the award.

“The team really looked together,” Fairley said. “The way the guys operated in the water, the way that they communicated with each other. They were just a really together unit, and for me to win Coach of the Year, it’s an absolute compliment to them.”

Part of coach Fairley’s success can be attributed to his past experience as a player for the McMaster water polo team.

“I can relate to exactly what they’ve done,” Fairley said. “Especially as a McMaster player, you know going through the OUA season, going through midterms and all of the external stresses that a varsity athlete would have.”

He took a different approach with playing time for the season, to get more players in the pool. This tactic was successful as the players believed in each other’s abilities to make an impact in the pool, even though some players received less playing time for the purpose of chemistry.

“When I think of character, we put in a different system of substituting,” Fairley said. “Which meant some people actually played less than they might have in years past, because we just took a little different focus and a different way of going about it, and this is where the team brought in to it and then brought in to each other.”

Chemistry, camaraderie and depth are what coach Fairley attributes to their success during the season and at the OUA championship. Utilizing everyone's capabilities and having a great foundation of trust in all of his players, regardless of experience, has been a great contribution to the water polo teams.

“What we’re building on more so is camaraderie, using a couple of key pieces but, the other side of our team especially by the minutes and by playing time we were without a doubt one of the deeper teams in the league,” Fairley said. “We made a huge step in culture, we made a huge step in the way that we operate together, and that’s really what the result is.”

After battling through adversity such as injuries and other issues over the past few seasons, getting a medal at the OUA tournament was really important to many players on the team. As something that has escaped the team for a few years, making the podium was definitely one of the highlights of the tournament.

“We’ve had teams that I’ve thought, and think still to this day, should have medaled prior to this year for circumstances, whether it be a poor performance or injuries or whatever, we just never got it done,” Fairley said.

The water polo teams will look to repeat their success next year, building off of this year’s newfound success while continuing the new culture of trust developed by coach Fairley as they strive to receive a medal once more.

 

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