C/O Yoohyun Park, Multimedia Coordinator

These are the McMaster sports teams to watch this year

In the 2021-2022 season, there was plenty to be proud of in the world of McMaster University sports. Between the school's 11 U Sports clubs and the 16 Ontario University Athletics teams, there was always something going on. Now heading into the 2022-2023 season, here are the teams you should have your eye on.  

Honorable mentions 

The women’s volleyball team may not have finished the year on the podium, but they certainly had a promising year. The team is centered around star Sullie Sundara, the 2021-2022 rookie of the year award winner, first team all-star and U21 team Canada member, as well as fellow first team all-star Jessie Nairn and second team all-star Ellie Hatashita. The team finished second in the West, having won eight and lost four in the regular season before being upset by the Western Mustangs in the quarter final. Going forward, the team has a very young core, only having lost a couple players heading into the season. With their last OUA championship having been only five seasons ago, and their last finals appearance only four seasons ago, they have a chance to make it back and do some real damage this season.  

The 2021-2022 men’s baseball team was one for the history books. Despite what the team has been through, they managed to bring home an OUA silver. Outfielder Nik Motruk also won the most valuable player award, while Joshua Kalmin took home rookie of the year honors. It was a huge year for the team and one would feel safe in assuming the club would find themselves in the power rankings the following season. However, many key graduating members have kept the team in the honorable mentions. Back-to-back MVP winner Motruk and former Cy Young winner (awarded to the league’s best pitcher) Julian Tymochko as well as a couple other notable contributors have completed their time at McMaster. The baseball team faces an uphill climb as they look to return to the OUA playoffs in their upcoming season.  

5. Men’s Wrestling 

The men’s wrestling team went a long way in 2021-2022, finding their way into the five spot in this season's power rankings. Over the past year there were two major tournaments for the team, the Brock Open and the OUA Championship. At Brock the men’s team managed to pull away with a first place finish, as Francesco Fortino, Trystan Kato, Luken Lawson and Sarpartap Lally all won the gold in their respective weight classes. Five other members of the team also found themselves on the podium with silver or bronze. 

Shortly after the Brock Open, McMaster as a team finished second in the province at the OUA Championship. Peter Shirley, Trystan Kato and Francesco Fortino took home gold medals, while the team also earned two silvers and no bronze finishes. Shirley would finish the season as OUA’s outstanding male wrestler of the year.  

All members of the team are expected to return for the 2022-2023 season.  

4. Men’s Basketball 

Following a loaded year for the team, the men’s basketball team just fell short after losing a close matchup to the eventual OUA champion Brock Badgers in the semi-finals. The team saw a blazing hot start leading into the winter break, winning all six of their matchups. Following their return to play in January, they started to slow down, in part due to more difficult competition. The team still finished with a strong 11 wins and five losses. They were the only team — regular season and playoffs — to defeat the Badgers all year.  

The team, led by former Maine Red Claws assistant coach Patrick Tatham, is full of explosive young talent. In 2021-2022 they only had one player, Luka Mircetic, in his fourth year of eligibility (or later), creating a path for sustainable success. With Jordan Henry (first team all-star), Mike Demagus (second team all-star), Culley Bremner (all-rookie team) and co returning this season, the continued chemistry between the already strong ball club could go a long way.  

3. Men’s Soccer 

The 2021-2022 season was a strong, but underwhelming one for McMaster men’s soccer team. After finishing second in the central division with an overall record of 6-2-2, the Marauders fell in their first round quarterfinal matchup against the defending champion and nationally third ranked, Carleton Ravens. The team was expected to go much further, but ultimately fell victim to an unfortunate early round matchup, facing arguably the most difficult team possible.  

Despite the early playoff exit, the team showed promise. Dusan Kovacevic and Al-Shakman were named to the All-Canadian team, while Al-Shakman was also selected to the all-rookie team, and named OUA Central rookie of the year.  

Heading into the upcoming season, it is a team still rich with talent. The biggest challenge for the club will be overcoming a coaching change, following the departure of longtime McMaster head coach Dino Perri, who spent the last 14 years with the team. He won three OUA titles and qualified for five national championships, which included a silver medal run in 2014. The Hamilton Soccer Hall of Fame member will be succeeded by assistant coach Chris Markou, who will take on an interim role.  

2. Women’s Basketball 

The women’s basketball team has to be one of the most exciting young teams McMaster has to offer. In a 2021-2022 season that was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the team finished with a winning record of nine wins and six losses, locking themselves into a playoff spot. Their season would end in a close 49-45 loss to the Brock Badgers in the quarterfinal.  

McMaster’s basketball teams commonly credit their success to a strong culture. Along with 28 year veteran coach and three time coach of the year award winner Therese Burnes, the entire roster from the 2021-2022 season is expected to return. The team, led by Sarah Gates and Mia Spadafora — both members of the Marauders 2019 national championship team — has a great opportunity to continue their upward trajectory on a path of improvement through a greater sense of familiarity and on-court chemistry. There could be much more than just a playoff berth to remember the 2022-2023 season by. 

1. Men’s Volleyball 

There is no team more clear cut for the number one spot than the Marauders men’s volleyball team. Since the 2007-2008 season, McMaster has won the provincial title in a staggering 10 of 14 playoff runs, the most recent being the 2021-2022 season in their return to the court.  

The Marauders shined bright all season long, sweeping their way to the OUA championships by winning all 15 games they played. Ranked as the third best team in Canada, they continued through to the national championship, where they placed fifth. Individually, the team was loaded with accolades. Dave Preston took home the coach of the year award, Robbie Fujisawa and Maxime Gratton were named to the all-rookie team while Gratton won the rookie of the year, Wojtek Kraj and Mateusz Wlodarski made the second team all-star and team captain Jordan Pereira and Sam Cooper were named to the first team all-star.  

Pereira is the only graduating member of the team, with everyone else slated to return to the court, so the Marauders have an incredibly bright future ahead as they continue to dominate the volleyball world.  

C/O The Silhouette Archives

This is the year to tune into the variety of varsity sports McMaster offers

The 2020-2021 school year was a frustrating year, with no varsity or intramural sports happening on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the 2021-2022 season offered a full variety of sports opportunities and activities students could get involved in, there were still a handful of disruptions, including the January lockdown that prohibited OUA competitions from continuing as planned.  

This upcoming season provides a sense of hope and continuity for sports enthusiasts and novices alike. There are many reasons to watch the sports the university has to offer and below are our top five reasons for why you should get involved this upcoming school year. 

1. Everything is open!  

As it stands in July 2022, all the facilities on campus will be open to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, students will not be required to sign up to access any on-campus facilities. Finally, the COVID-19 screening tool used in the 2021-2022 season, MacCheck, will no longer be required for students or student athletes wishing to get involved in any sports activities on campus.   

2. More athletes involved in national teams  

As the new season approaches, there are more opportunities for student athletes to be involved with junior and senior national team call ups. Although last season had its fair share of athletes being called up to the national teams, this season is promising comparable results.   

Although we are still two months away from commencement, Canadian U-21 women’s volleyball team included Marauder Sullie Sundara for the team at the upcoming U21 Pan American Cup in Mexico. Meanwhile from the men’s team, Sam Cooper was named to the Canadian senior national team. Finally, from the wrestling team, Serena Di Bennedetto qualified for the Canadian junior national team. 

3. More fixtures added to the teams’ schedule  

While the teams were allowed to play last season due to the timing of the pandemic waves their fixtures were somewhat limited. For example, if a team typically had 15 fixtures in the regular season, they were cut down to 10.   

From the schedules released thus far, there have been more matches added to the upcoming OUA season. For example, both the men’s’ and women’s’ soccer teams have seen an increase in their schedule from 10 games last season to 12 for this year's regular season

4. Greater focus on 2SLGBTQIA+ in sports 

Over the past season, the Athletics and Recreation Department at McMaster University has organized numerous events students and athletes alike could get involved in. Events like this are key for connecting with the wider McMaster community. Many events have been tailored towards supporting and recognizing particularly communities, including the 2SLGBTQIA+ community on campus.   

An event that shed light on this community last season was the Pride Game taking place at McMaster men's and women’s basketball game against the Waterloo Warriors. The goal of the game was to highlight and increase the visibility of 2SLGBTQIA+ student-athletes. Although not confirmed as of July 2022, the event among others to shed light on the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are likely to held again.   

5. More racial equality implementation  

Over the past couple of years, McMaster has been grilled for consistently letting down their athletes. There were numerous allegations regarding the mistreatment of the athletes representing the school, including the prioritization of white athletes while not responding to Black students for varsity meetings.   

This year McMaster put effort into combatting these allegations and has taken action. In late June 2022, the Athletics and Recreation Department hosted multiple peers at their inaugural anti-racism symposium. The goal of this event was to further the conversation within the OUA and OCAA about creating actual changes in athletics and recreation departments at the post-secondary level. Although this one event doesn't signify a complete change in the community’s stance towards racism, it certainly is a step in the right direction and shows a glimpse of hope for the future of McMaster athletes.   

C/O McMaster Sports

After completing the season with eight wins and four losses, the women’s volleyball team is playoff bound

After completing their season on Mar. 2 with a sweep of the Windsor Lancers, the McMaster Marauders women’s volleyball team has started to look ahead to their next challenge: the playoffs. 

If the win against the Lancers was a sign of things to come, then opposing teams will have lots to worry about in their Marauders matchups, and the team made easy work of their final regular season game. The three sets came with final scores of 25-6, 25-8 and 25-14 with Sullie Sundara, Jessie Nairn, Ellie Hatashita and Emma McKinnon leading the way.

“We worked really hard as a team this year and I’m really proud of us for how far we’ve come. Second in the West, that’s a big deal. We’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity this year and we’ve really pushed through that. [We have] really worked hard to get where we are,” said McKinnon.

The team is very anxious to get their playoff journey started and they’ve got their eyes on the prize as they continue to prepare for their first big game. 

“We’re all preparing, watching videos [and] practicing. We’re all in a good mindset for [the] playoffs . . . Our general goal is to go to nationals. If we do what we can — if we play our game — I think that’s entirely possible,” explained McKinnon.

“We’re all preparing, watching videos [and] practicing. We’re all in a good mindset for [the] playoffs . . . Our general goal is to go to nationals. If we do what we can — if we play our game — I think that’s entirely possible."

Emma McKinnon, Women's Volleyball Team

On Mar. 12 the Marauders will take on the Western Mustangs, the fourth seed in the West who finished with seven wins and five losses. The game will take place at home in Burridge Gym, where students can attend free of charge. 

Photos by Kyle West

After bringing home the provincial silver medal last year, McMaster’s women’s volleyball team missed the Ontario University Athletics playoffs for the first time since 2003-2004. At the end of last season, a large part of the team’s veteran players decided to move on from the program, leaving an obvious hole that needed to be filled.

Jessie Nairn, a third-year commerce student, suddenly found herself as one of the more veteran players on a young squad in a new starting position. One of the youngest players on the court a season prior, Nairn took some time to wrap her head around her new role.

“It was definitely a big change, but I think I'm starting to really enjoy the role of being a leader on the team, and we're definitely really starting to try understand what our new culture is,” Nairn said. “Being able to shape that as a leader on the team is definitely super cool and something I'm really excited for, even the next year coming.”

While they were not able to ultimately finish where they wanted, the team played well considering their drastic roster changes and the fierce competition in the OUA West. The young Marauders were able to stay right in the playoff race until the very end of the season.

Although they didn’t really consider themselves underdogs, they knew the road to the playoffs wouldn’t be easy. As the team adjusted to having significantly less upper-year players than last year, including several OUA all-stars, the Marauders needed to find what their new identity would be.

“I think this year was a big start to try to decide how we want to be as a team, and really how we want to act and prove ourselves.” Nairn added. “I think we're ready, we know what we have to do next year and we're excited for sure.”

One major highlight of the season for this year’s squad was Nairn’s nomination to the OUA All-Star First Team. Making the most of her opportunity, Nairn posted team-highs in aces (34), kills per set (2.97) and points per set (3.8).

“This summer I realized I'd have to step up and be a big role on the team coming into this year,” Nairn said. “From there, I was never really aiming to be on a First Team or Second Team, but I was more so aiming to do everything I could to get the wins for our team and do the best I could.”

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As one of the tallest people in her Grade 8 class, Nairn was originally convinced to play volleyball because “you can’t teach height”. Her love for the sport snowballed from there and her talent soon followed as volleyball became a large part of her life.

“I was definitely big into volleyball and I knew that volleyball is kind of what I wanted to do, so I knew I needed to go somewhere where I would have the training that I could trust in,” Nairn said. “Tim Louks is just one of the best coaches out there, and definitely in the OUA. So, I was really honored when he asked me to be on the team and that's definitely one of the major parts of why I came to the school.”

Also initially attracted to Mac’s engineering program, Nairn entered into Mac and soon found herself surrounded by all-star talent, inspiring her in her young volleyball career. With many nationally-recognized on both the women’s team and the men’s team with whom they are close, Mac’s volleyball program has a palpable competitive environment of success, which helped push Nairn in her career.

This aided in Nairn’s transition from second-year double-sub to third-year starting right side. While the move was initially shocking, she was ready for it, spending much of last year in the front row blocking, which got her excited to attack the offseason with enthusiasm.

“Starting this year was definitely, but more so mentally, to get into the game and be a big role on the team was hard to get used to,” Nairn said. “But once I did, it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed myself, and I think this year for me was just a really big year, and kind of proved to me what I can do and the places I can go and what I want to do with it.”

Heading into next season with a much more cohesive team, and the incredible administrative and fan support the team receives as praised by Nairn, the Marauders are poised for an exciting season.

“I’m excited. I think our team is going to be very strong next year mentally and physically because I think this offseason is going to be one of the hardest we've ever had just because of the outcome of this year,” Nairn said. “I think it's really going to drive us to be a very good team. I'm excited for the competition because I know none of the schools around us are getting any weaker, they're only getting better.”

While this might have been the first year they have missed the postseason in recent memory, having players like Nairn, Hailey Kranics and Zoe Mackintosh, along with an assortment of rising stars, the future looks bright. There probably won’t be any missed playoffs anytime soon.

 

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Photos by Kyle West

By: Adriana Skaljin

Rebecca Maxwell, setter for the McMaster women’s volleyball team, is starting off the 2019 with perseverance and a new attitude. As a newer team, the first half of the season was spent trying to figure out how to work together. Now that they have had the chance to play with one another, they are entering the second half with confidence.

“The [influx] of new players brought a new dynamic,” explained Maxwell. “We have had great practices and it’s working. We have found our stride!”

Maxwell described how at the beginning of the season, they focused a lot on developing their team dynamic and skills, such as blocking patterns. Now that they are more comfortable with each other, they have a new mindset focused on pushing for the win and doing what is needed to perform at an Ontario University Athletics gold level.

“We want to win OUA gold and nationals,” said Maxwell. “This is the goal [towards which] we are working.”

Not only is this a new comeback for the team, but Maxwell is coming back from a serious injury as well. During the team’s third practice, Maxwell got a concussion which kept her from playing in the pre-season and the first couple of games of the regular season.

“I came back for one set during the last game against [the University of] Windsor back in November,” Maxwell said. “I am excited to be back in full force, now that I [have the clear] to play again.”

Coach Tim Louks has commended the women’s volleyball team on their performance thus far, as they perform to the best of their ability, resulting in an honest outcome.

“We are going forward fast,” said Louks. “We are building capacity physically and intellectually to contribute to our vision of winning.”

When asked about their toughest competitors going into the season, Maxwell explained how it changes every game.

“Any team that is across from us at that moment in the court is who we want to beat,” explained Maxwell. “There are shocking results across the board, so everyone becomes a good competitor.”

“You have to expect certain elements from certain groups,” added Louks. “This requires our ability to learn more and become better. [Therefore,] we are our own toughest competitor.”

On Jan. 13 and 14, the Marauders kicked off the new year against Windsor and the University of Western Ontario on their home court. The team went into the matches with an enthusiastic approach and a high level of determination.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsVoKLaBMPi/?hl=en

“Windsor is a game that we want back,” said Maxwell. “We want to take that three-setter away from them. [The game against] Windsor is going to be a battle, because we know what they can do and what we can do. Our last game against Windsor gives us some confidence, and the loss against Western gives us motivation towards taking the win away from them.”

“A common question we get is, ‘are you ready?’ I think that we are as ready as possible which is important,” said Louks on the team’s readiness. “Western is a great opponent, so there could be some uncertainty in terms of results. We will need to turn it around in a day, after the game results against Windsor [the day prior].”

Unfortunately, a 3-1 loss against Windsor would result in the team’s fourth loss of the year; a tough way to reopen the season. The next day, the Marauders bounced back in a strong comeback-win against Western, winning 3-2.

👩🏐 The Marauders completed the comeback Sunday, re-entering the win column with a thrilling, five-set victory over Western! #GoMacGo pic.twitter.com/a16KLmVM49

— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) January 13, 2019

It is this motivated attitude that will help push them towards the OUA and national championships, while proving that they are strong competitors.

It is certain that the McMaster women’s volleyball team will use their losses as motivation towards a strong second-half of their season, while continuing to build momentum off of their victories.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

Both the men's volleyball team and women's basketball team took the weekend by storm with two victories each, while the men's basketball and women's volleyball teams won one out of their two games. Here are the stars of the weekend.

Sarah Gates

The second-year is no stranger to the Pita Pit Athlete of the Week award, most recently winning the weekend honour on Nov. 15, 2018, when she scored a career-high of 24 points. This weekend, she poured in 19 points for the Marauders in both of the team’s wins. Gates who was called to the 2018 Ontario University Athletics All-Rookie team, shot 50 per cent from the field and 40 per cent from the three, as well as collecting four rebounds in the win over Wilfrid Laurier University. Against the University of Guelph, she hit three of eight shots from three, and gave the team four steals and four rebounds.

 

Right side @MattColeP from @MACMVB and @macwbball guard Sarah Gates are the @PitaPitCanada Athletes of the Week. @mcmasteru #GoMacGo

READ ⬇️https://t.co/u7nAO5cvSh

— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) January 14, 2019

 

Matt Passalent

After sitting out due to injury, Passalent hit the court for the first time of the regular season and did not miss a beat, being recognized as the Pita Pit Athlete of the Week for his efforts. Facing two U Sports top-10 opponents this weekend, the Marauders took home two victories and Passalent was a big part of both. The fourth-year had 10 kills, two aces and a block assist for 12.5 points Saturday against University of Windsor, and 15 kills and 18.5 points against Western University, which bumped them up to #4 in the national rankings.

 

There are 4️⃣ @mcmasteru teams ranked in this week's @usportsca Top 10s, with @MACMVB and men's wrestling both moving up two spots!

♂️🏐⬆️4️⃣
♀️🏀↔️4️⃣
🤼‍♂️⬆️6️⃣
🤼‍♀️↔️9️⃣#GoMacGo pic.twitter.com/qqPgOWV8jK

— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) January 15, 2019

 

David McCulloch

In the Marauders’ second victory of the New Year, coming against the Guelph Gryphons, McCulloch contributed 23 points shooting 64 per cent from the field. The 97-80 road win seemed like just the fire the Marauders needed to bring it home and win again. Unfortunately, the Laurier Golden Hawks had other plans. Despite the fifth-year guard being the second highest leading scorer of the game with 15 points, the Golden Hawks came for revenge and defeated the Marauders 87-73 at home.

 

Jessie Narin

Narin led the Marauders offensively in both games against Windsor and Western this weekend. With 17 kills and 23 points, including five aces and a solo block, she helped Mac defeat Western on Saturday night in the fifth set. Narin, a right side, also led offensively the night before in the loss to Windsor, with 14 kills, three aces and a block assist for a team- and match-high 17.5 points.

This weekend McMaster basketball will face the Lakehead University Timberwolves in back-to-back home games this weekend, with the women playing at 6:00 p.m. and the men at 8:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Both volleyball teams will then take over Burridge on Sunday, as the women and men host the Brock University Badgers this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. respectively.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

 

Men's Basketball

After finishing the first half of the season 4-7, it seemed as if the Marauders would need a serious holiday miracle to win again. Their first game of the 2019 schedule was against the No. 9 nationally-ranked Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks, and winning did not seem on the horizon. However, behind the leadership of veteran Connor Gilmore, who had 22 points, they pulled off the upset, winning 79-67. Hopefully, the good start will follow them into the rest of the year as they face the University of Guelph Gryphons this Friday, who boast the same 5-7 record, and the Golden Hawks again the following night who will surely be looking for revenge.

 

Women's Basketball

For the women’s team, winning comes easy. After defeating the Golden Hawks with a whopping 82-62 win, it seemed as if they did not skip a beat in the new year. Linnaea Harper led the team in scoring with 17 points, and the women bumped up one spot in the national rankings now sitting in fourth. With Guelph and Laurier again to beat this weekend, the Marauders will hope to maintain their four-game winning streak and improve on their 10-2 record.

 

Men's Volleyball

The men’s volleyball team used international competition to improve their game over the holidays. Although they did not leave Long Beach, California with a win going into the New Year, they saw overall team improvement, which is exactly what they went there to do. These improvements were on display the following week as they took on a top Polish team, Jastrzebski Wegiel, and defeated them twice (3-1 and 3-2). The No. 6 nationally-ranked Marauders will now return to conference competition against No. 7 University of Windsor Lancers and No. 8 Western University Mustangs this weekend.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsTJ1fchXea/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

 

Women's Volleyball

The women’s team did not take on any non-conference competition this holiday season, although during the break they added top talent setter and defensive specialist Christina Stratford, and setter Nikolina Malic for the 2019 recruiting class. The Marauders will be hitting the court for the first time since Nov. 30 this weekend, facing the 3-6 Lancers and the 5-4 Mustangs. Currently sitting at 5-3, these games will determine if McMaster will stand out in Ontario this season or fall down the rankings.

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

 

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Photos by Kyle West

By: Adriana Skaljin

The McMaster women’s volleyball team is off to a unique start, having introduced several new players following key departures from last season, including several Ontario University Athletics all-stars. As opposed to becoming discouraged by the challenge of adjusting to a new roster, the Marauders have established a positive approach to this season.

“We’re working our way to rebuild some missing years of experience, seeing as we have so many new players,” said head coach Tim Louks.

These new players have been described positively, due to their passion for the game and willingness to learn how to play at a university level.

“They all entered with great enthusiasm,” said Louks. “They realize the difficulty that comes with playing at a university level, and know that they need to practice.”

Jessie Nairn, a third-year commerce student and right side, described how the new players will have ample opportunity to play this year and get onto the court.

“The new athletes bring great energy to the court and are all competitive,” said Nairn. “They are all still adjusting, but [us veterans] are also adjusting because we lost so many players.”

Despite their lack of experience, Louks, who has coached the team for 30 years, explained how they have a lot to bring to the court, playing well throughout the preseason. The team had a rough start to the regular season, losing 2-3 against Ryerson University on Oct. 20, and the University of Toronto on Oct. 26.

“We had opportunities to win sets, but it slipped away,” explained Louks. “We have what it takes, we just need to work on finding results.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bpf6acTBHEJ/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1gf9tmauskcx0

Like Louks, his players have a similar positive attitude towards the losses. Hailey Kranics, a third-year political science student who plays middle, explained how the energy during the game against Toronto prepared them for what is yet to come.

“That game felt like a playoff game,” said Kranics. “This prepares us for the actual playoffs.”

“Losing the games might not be the worst, because [they] show us that we are still trying to figure ourselves out and that there is nothing stopping us from winning,” Nairn added.

Kranics and Nairn now find themselves in leadership roles on the team, due to the loss of many upper-year players. As third-year students, they stepped up to the challenge and have recognized the difficulties and pressures that come with being players to which others look up.

[spacer height="20px"]“I feel more involved and accountable this year,” explained Kranics. “I am constantly paying attention to the things I do and look at how they affect those around me.”

Likewise, Nairn touched upon how both their leadership roles and their playing time have increased.

“Last year, I didn’t have as big of a playing role as I do this year,” said Nairn. “Being one of the older players is a big adjustment to be thrown into.”

With the responsibilities of being a team leader comes the ability to recognize the newness of the team, while trying to stimulate ways of figuring each other out. This creates the need to balance both personal growth and self-realization, while understanding how to play as a cohesive unit. It takes a good leader to be able to work through these barriers, and coach Louks commended the effort of his new leaders.

“[They] are receptive to trying to provide guidance and have been committed and dedicated to figur[ing] out how to lead,” Louks said.

The coaching staff has also taken new leadership, with the return of former assistant coach Nathan Janzen resuming the role he previously held with the program.

“This injection has garnered more attention to detail and needed provision, due to his tremendous level of volleyball expertise,” said Louks.

On top of this staff addition, the coaches have implemented an expansion of fitness training and a higher level of determination.

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“This year, we have more determination and tougher coaching that focuses on making players understand that we need to sort out our team mentality and win,” said Nairn.

It is with this positive attitude and drive for success that the McMaster women’s volleyball team pulled off back-to-back wins against Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada on Nov. 9 and 10. The team is definitely in the works of pulling off another great season and are making a strong attempt towards achieving their goal of obtaining OUA gold.

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Photo by Kyle West

Sarah Gates, women’s basketball

It was a big weekend up north for the second-year guard. In the first of the women’s team’s two weekend contests, Gates led the team in scoring with a career 24 points in their 91-44 beat down against the Nipissing University Lakers. The next night, she did it again, bringing in another 24 points to help the team win a much closer game against the Laurentian University Voyageurs. Her all-star performance awarded her the Pita Pit Athlete of the Week. Next up, Gates and the Marauders face the Ryerson University Rams and University of Toronto Varsity Blues,where they hope to keep up their undefeated overall record.

C/O  OUA.tv

[spacer height="20px"]Connor Gilmore, men’s basketball

After starting 3-0 and upsetting the nationally ranked Brock University Badgers, the last thing the men’s team wanted was to lose to the Lakers. Unfortunately, they were not prepared for the cold battle, and fell short 71-80. Although they lost, senior Gilmore remained a team leader, bringing in 16 points and eight rebounds. The next night, winning was still not on the horizon as the team almost made a comeback, but fell 80-74 to the Voyageurs. Gilmore once again was a team leader and brought in 16 points 12 rebounds and three assists. Hopefully, Gilmore can help lead the Marauders to win against Mac head coach Patrick Tatham’s ex-team and nationally-ranked Ryerson, before a tilt with the Varsity Blues.

[spacer height="20px"]Andrew Richards, men’s volleyball

The senior led the men’s team with 23 kills and and overall 25 points in the 2-3 loss to the Queen's University Gaels. The next night, he did it again with 15 kills, five aces and a solo block for a match high of 21, his efforts leading the Marauders to defeat the Royal Military College of Canada Paladins. The Marauders improved to an overall 3-1 record, though they dropped on the national rankings, currently sitting at No. 4 as they head into their upcoming game against the Trent University Excalibur in Peterborough this weekend.  

Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

[spacer height="20px"]Hailey Kranics, women’s volleyball

The women started off their weekend with a 3-1 win against the Gaels. Leading them in their victory was middle Kranics, who brought in 14.5 points that included eight kills, four aces and two and a half blocks. They did it again the next night against the Paladins in a 3-0 win where Kranics helped out, bringing in five kills. The team now sits at 2-2 and hope to change that this weekend against the Excalibur.

C/O  OUA.tv

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Rebecca Steckle never thought she would be back for a fifth year. Academically driven, on course to graduate, and ready to begin her career as a nurse, it wasn’t until a teammate stated another possibility.

“One of my friends [Kiera Adams] joked one day ‘wouldn’t it be funny if we all came back,’ because we all weren’t planning on it,” said Steckle. “I remembered [laughing], but I never gave it a chance… It was just never on the table [at that point].”

Flash forward to this season, and not only is Steckle back on the court in maroon, she is enjoying a perfect 6-0 record in league play while putting up some of the most stellar performances of her career.

“It got to the point where I thought about it and I just thought ‘why not’,” said Steckle. “I have the rest of my life to do everything else but I only have one more year to play with this team.”

Making the most of every game has been a clear theme among the Mac women this year, and their record shows it. Currently sitting third in the University Sports national rankings, women’s volleyball has yet to lose a game at home, dropping only two sets since October with solid wins over York, Lakehead and Brock in the last three weeks.

As a player, Steckle has transitioned from a first-year recruit out of Kitchener, Ontario who averaged just 0.71 points a game, to a team starter who currently sits third in the Ontario University Athletics league in hitting percentage (0.357) with 51 total kills and 65.5 points on the year.

So what advice does this seasoned player have for her fellow marauders?

Find your Mental Game

Being physically ready is just half the battle. Mental preparation has a huge impact on performance, and needs effort to improve.

“It took a long time for my game not to be dependent on how confident I was feeling,” said Steckle. “I [started to realize] that it wasn’t about ‘do I get this point or do I not,’ it was ‘am I being better?’ It was ‘did I allow my team to get the point or did I make my team better.”

“My mindset is always staying relaxed, and not thinking too much about the game,” said Steckle. “I don’t like to overthink... I just need to remember who I am playing for. My focus before the game is relaxing and remembering why I am in that team room, its for the girls around me.”

Don’t Dwell

Steckle has experienced her own setbacks along the way, from nagging injures to early playoffs exits. But the ability to take something away from each of those setbacks is what is really important.

“There are moments that are really hard… it is easy to look back and be angry, and we have all [done it]. But it becomes to much of an emotional game,” said Steckle. “Learning to take losses and recognize what you have done well or where you have lacked [can] help you focus in on what you need to do next time. As a team, we are much better at that.”

Venture out of your Comfort Zone

Finding your own success means more than just working hard within immediate circles.

“I lot of the time we can get into this bubble within the Mac community, which is cool because I think we have a really strong group, the university itself is just so inclusive,” said Steckle. “But it’s easy to forget that there is a world outside of us, and even easier to forget there are a lot of things that aren’t easy happening around us.”

Walking the Walk  

As an executive of the student non-for-profit Athletes Care, Steckle has been an advocate of youth empowerment through sport and currently serves as the hospital visit coordinator for the organization. She has also volunteered with the Abide Family Centre, travelling to Uganda to work with individuals from impoverished communities. For her efforts, Steckle was award the OUA West Division 2016 Award of Merit and was a finalist for the Dr. Edna Guest award for outstanding female graduating student.

Keep the Balance 

When it comes to managing school work and other commitments, it is more than just keeping busy and being efficient with the time that you have.

“People always ask how you can do multiple things… but I think when you enjoy two things and you put your full effort into them you are able to do it,” said Steckle. “If you don’t love both its hard because you wont want to do one or the other... but for me I was able to do [school and sports] because I love both and I wanted to do my best in both of them.”

Above everything else? it’s the little things that make everything worthwhile.

“I am so thankful for every moment, because I never expected them to happen. So the fact I get another chance at that for another year, is really special,” said Steckle.

“Just take the little moments and enjoy them, and you will be fine. You will love it.”

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