The Marauders earn 13 medals and the top spot at the McMaster invitational in a dominant start to their season  

The McMaster wrestling team took on their first season meet of the year at the McMaster University  invitational held on Oct. 30. Hosted at the university’s own Burridge gymnasium, the Marauders came away with multiple medals across different weight classes from both the men and women’s divisions. Overall, the team pulled away with a first place victory, scoring 85 points to edge past the University of Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas who managed 84 points in the contest.  

Following their home opening dual meet against Alberta on Oct. 29, the Marauders entered their regular season high off of last year’s silver medal performances at the Ontario University Athletic Championships. Featuring rosters packed with youth and talent, both the men and women teams dominated the McMaster invitational with outstanding matches on the mats.  

On the women’s side, athletes Ligaya Stinellis, Serena Di Benedetto and Macy Malysiak secured gold medals for the 50kg, 53kg and 56kg events respectively. A three-time competitor for Team Canada and a new recruit for the team this year, Di Benedetto won by technical fall over Taylor Mcpherson for an impressive start to the season. Stinellis and Malysiak, who landed podium placements at their individual events during last year’s championships, also delivered strong performances for the Marauders.  

Individual success at the meet aside, it was very important for members, such as Malysiak, to take advantage of the regular season for the team’s growth, development and playoff preparation. They managed to do just that, making the most of the meet. 

“Like our coaches say, everybody wants to win, but you sometimes want to put yourself in uncomfortable positions and situations so that you can learn from them. All these tournaments are just a learning block before the big ones,” said Malysiak. 

“Like our coaches say, everybody wants to win, but you sometimes want to put yourself in uncomfortable positions and situations so that you can learn from them. All these tournaments are just a learning block before the big ones.”

Macy Malysiak, women's wrestling team

Rounding out the other medalists, Betty Huang, Similoluwa Jayeoba and Tehani Blais captured three more silver medals for the women’s team. Vanessa Fonrose also added a bronze medal for her performance in the 76kg matches. 

Leading the charge for the men’s team, Gregor McNeil took home the team’s lone gold, winning by injury default against Mahir Sabat from York University in the first place 61kg match. Francesco Fortino, Irman Kang and Jonathan Vecchio also earned three silver medals for the maroon and grey team. Finally, both Gianluca Fortino and Howard Moffatt ended with third place finishes in the 65kg and 90kg matches respectively.  

Along with Di Benedetto, McNeil is also a first year recruit for the McMaster wrestling program with past experience on Team Canada. Of the 13 total medals won by the Marauders, six were won by athletes in their debut season with the wrestling program. Such achievements speak volumes to the team’s future potential. 

“I honestly am just consistently excited because this is the best recruitment class that we’ve had for a long time . . . I do think that we are achieving more than we have in the past and so I think that this is going to continue on in the long run,” said Stinellis.  

“I honestly am just consistently excited because this is the best recruitment class that we’ve had for a long time . . . I do think that we are achieving more than we have in the past and so I think that this is going to continue on in the long run.”

Ligaya Stinellis, women's wrestling team

After the meets, both the men and women’s teams rank high atop the U Sports wrestling power rankings. On the leaderboards, the women came second place in the country while the men finished in third.  

The Marauders will soon travel to Toronto, taking the mats at the Toronto Metropolitan University invitational on Nov. 13. Later in the winter, they will take on the OUA wrestling championships on Feb. 11 and the U Sports championship held from Feb. 24 to Feb. 26.  

With seven more meets still on their schedule, both teams will have plenty of time to prepare for the postseason title run in 2023.  

Ahmed Shamiya received the Ontario Coaching Excellence Award for his positive impact on McMaster’s wrestling program

Former student athlete turned coach Ahmed Shamiya was recently presented with the Ontario Coaching Excellence Award by the Coaches Association of Ontario. 

The award recognizes coaches for their impact on athletes, teams and communities. Whether by building inclusive environments or leading their teams to championships, the winners of the award have been shown to be outstanding, dedicated leaders. 

In a press release statement, Jeremy Cross, executive director for the Coaches Association of Ontario, praised Shamiya’s contributions to McMaster University’s wrestling program.  

“We are thrilled to recognize Ahmed [Shamiya] for his dedication and support of athlete development on and off the playing field. Community volunteerism will play a vital role as we continue to recover from the pandemic and coaches like Ahmed are leaders in creating safe, fun and positive spaces for youth to grow as athletes and leaders,” explained Cross. 

"Community volunteerism will play a vital role as we continue to recover from the pandemic and coaches like Ahmed are leaders in creating safe, fun and positive spaces for youth to grow as athletes and leaders,”

Jeremy Cross, Executive Director of ther Coaches Association of Ontario

Shamiya is one of 10 total recipients to receive the award along with fellow Marauder Larissa Byckalo, assistant coach for the women’s volleyball team. In addition to the honours, coaches also received a $500 reimbursement provided by Hydro One to put towards funding for the team.  

Such honours are a part of National Coaches Week, a campaign running from Sep. 17 to Sep. 25 to celebrate coaches across Canada.  

Shamiya was grateful to receive the award for his efforts within the wrestling program and the overall athletics community at McMaster.  

“I love coaching and I love working with athletes on a daily basis. I do this out of love for the support of wrestling but along the way it’s also nice to be recognized for some of the work,” said Shamiya.  

Before his coaching tenure, Shamiya also had received several awards during his time as a McMaster student. 

In his rookie year on the wrestling team, in 2013, Shamiya took home the gold medal after competing in the OUA championship final. His efforts in 2015 helped the Marauders to their first OUA men’s title since 1993.  

After playing under former head coach Nick Cipriano as an athlete, Shamiya assumed head coach duties for the program at the end of the 2019 season. Despite being the youngest head coach in the OUA circuit, Shamiya’s poise and dedication have helped to carry the team to excellence.  

In 2020, his first year as head coach, Shamiya led the men’s wrestling team to a silver medal at the OUA championships. For his efforts, he was also named the OUA Men’s Coach of the Year.  

More recently, Shamiya took both the men and women’s teams to second place finishes at the 2022 OUA finals, which included 10 podium placements by the Marauders. 

As their head coach, one of Shamiya’s biggest goals when working with athletes is to help them develop their mental performance in addition to improving their physical play. 

“Through coaching one thing I’ve learned, and one thing I’m trying to do with my athletes currently, is to try and get them to see themselves as more than they see themselves currently. . . because the only way that you’ll accomplish anything in life is if you believe that you’re the type of person who’s capable of achieving those things,” stated Shamiya.   

His history with the Marauders represents a landmark achievement in the university’s sporting community. With such a decorated background as both an athlete and coach, the future of McMaster’s wrestling team is bound to be bright with Shamiya at its helm. 

C/O Yoohyun Park

It’s been quite the season so far, but which McMaster sports team impressed the most?

What a year it has been in the Marauders return to sport! After a long period of inactivity, in September the Marauders got back on track with their varsity schedules when most of the teams finally resumed their competitive runs. This season, McMaster students were lucky to see many teams perform well on the big stages, such as the Ontario University Athletics championships and even out of province competition to test their abilities.  

As the end of the school year approaches, it seemed appropriate to look back and determine which teams impressed our community the most. The following rankings are based on how far teams made it through the OUAs or any other championship and the competition that they had to face before achieving their spot. Without further ado, let’s look through the Sil’s five most impressive varsity performances of the season, counting down from five. 

5.  Men's and women’s wrestling 

It’s safe to say that this season has been very successful for both the men's and the women's wrestling teams. Last November the teams competed at a tournament hosted in Hamilton, where they collected a total of six medals — three silvers and three golds.  

Their success did not stop there. Just over a month ago, both of the teams competed at the Brock open, where they took on some of the best teams in Ontario. The event proved to be a very successful one for our wrestlers. The men’s team came out as champions and the women’s team placed third. Additionally, Francesco Fortino, a player on the men’s wrestling team won the Marauder of the Week accolade

The grind doesn't stop there for the wrestling teams. Their next challenge will be on April 2, when they will take part in the OUA championships in St. Catherines.  

4.  Women's basketball 

This season the women’s basketball team really made a name for itself in the OUAs. Despite having won the national title just two years prior, the team was widely viewed as being in a transition year due to so many early year players. Despite knowing that the competition was going to be rough and that it was going to take a lot of work for such a young team to make it to the OUA playoffs, they made it happen. 

Although there were ups and downs along the way, the team showed a lot of character in all of their games, managing to finish with a record of 10-7. When they started the OUA playoffs, they swept the Waterloo Warriors 63-45, which guaranteed them a quarterfinal spot. Unfortunately, their luck ran out in the quarters, where the Brock Badgers just narrowly came on top with 49-45.  

Overall, it was a season full of character for the Marauders, which is something which they wish to build on for next season after their exciting first year back. 

Overall, it was a season full of character for the Marauders, which is something which they wish to build on for next season after their exciting first year back. 

3.  Men’s soccer 

The men’s soccer team started playing their competitions in September and finished off near the middle of the first semester. Although it has been a while since we got to see the players in maroon, we can’t forget their astonishing run throughout. During their season, they played eleven games, of which six were wins and only two were losses. 

Much of the effort it took to make it that far came from their star striker, Dusan Kovacevic. The OUA athlete of the week accounted for just over 30% of the team’s goals. Furthermore, Kovacevic scored four times in a game against the Algoma Thunderbirds, which ended 7-0 for the Marauders.  

Although the team did make it to the quarterfinals of the OUA championships, they unfortunately fell 3-1 to the Carleton Ravens, which ended their eventful season.  

2. Men’s basketball 

The men’s basketball team has been very impressive this season. They consistently achieved good results and were even on a five-win streak in the OUA season.  

The men’s basketball team has been very impressive this season. They consistently achieved good results and were even on a five-win streak in the OUA season.  

Throughout the season, they won 12 out of the possible 18 games, which took them to the OUA championship knock-out stages. It wasn’t going to be easy, but the Marauders started strongly with their 12-point win against the Lakehead Timberwolves, thus guaranteeing them a spot in the semis. Unfortunately, that is where their journey ended as they were knocked out by the Badgers, 75-88. Regardless, the fantastic performance of the men’s basketball team this season deserves to be recognized near the top of this list.  

1. Men’s volleyball team 

Where do we start? The men’s volleyball team has been inspiring to watch, to say the least. They have fought their way through the OUA championships with ease, winning the title and making sure that they were the team to be feared, even far away from home.  

They have fought their way through the OUA championships with ease, winning the title and making sure that they were the team to be feared, even far away from home.  

The men’s volleyball team played 18 games between the regular season, the OUA playoffs and the national playoffs. Of these games, they won 17. In their first 12 games of the season in the group stages of the OUA, they did not lose a single game. Furthermore, the Marauders went on to glide through the OUA knockout stages against teams like the Windsor Lancers, the Brock Badgers and the Toronto Varsity Blues. The latter was the opponent the Marauders played against in the finals, where they clinched their first OUA title in three seasons.  

Things didn't end there for the team, as they went on to play in the U Sports championships in Winnipeg. Although the team did not start well, losing to the University of Calgary, they bounced back and achieved fifth in all of Canada, winning against Queens Gaels and the Manitoba Bisons in the consolation play-offs.  

Yoohyun Park/Production Coordinator

In just a couple of days, restrictions will be loosened, and university sports will resume

On Jan. 20, it was announced that Ontario would be reverting its lockdown policy that was meant to last until Jan. 27. This means that as of Jan. 31, gyms, restaurants and other amenities will be allowed to reopen. In addition to this, the Ontario University Athletics got the green lights to continue its competitions from that date onwards.  

The OUA expressed their disappointment many times with the decision from the Ontario government, deeming the OUA to be non-elite. This decision forced the organization to halt all activities due to their classification as amateur and not elite sport. Immediately, many of the athletes competing in university sports cited their anger with the decision, with the McMaster Olympic alum, Jesse Lumsden, calling the verdict a “joke.” 

Now that a date is set for the return of athletes to campus and their sporting activities, what does it exactly mean to them? 

Francesco Fortino, a member of the men’s wrestling team at McMaster, expressed his happiness with the OUA finally bound to resume.  

“It’s pretty exciting to have some positive news relating to [the OUA]. We had a very solid first semester of training and the team has built a very solid foundation. Personally, I am very excited not only to wrestle, but to witness my teammates perform to the best of their abilities. The whole team is looking forward to coming back,” said Fortino. 

“It’s pretty exciting to have some positive news relating to [the OUA]. We had a very solid first semester of training and the team has built a very solid foundation. Personally, I am very excited not only to wrestle, but to witness my teammates perform to the best of their abilities. The whole team is looking forward to coming back."

Francesco Fortino, Wrestling Team

The lockdown has also had an impact on Fortino’s preparations for the rest of the season.  

“I’d be lying if I said the lockdowns have been easy. However, the lockdowns are just another obstacle that we must deal with. This sport is full of adversity and unpredictability. Preparing has been adjusted slightly, but the grind has continued like always,” said Fortino. 

Although there was no activity from any team during the past month, it is important to note that the McMaster wrestling team has been outstanding this season and has been ranked in the top five teams in Canada. Like others on the team, Fortino is excited to start competing again. 

“Words cannot describe how excited I am to be given another opportunity to compete. There are so many people involved in getting a successful season together. One step at a time, we are ready to move forward and perform at our best in the coming competitions,” said Fortino. 

For now, the expected commencement date for the OUA championships is Feb 9. Although it is unknown whether fans will be allowed back in the stands, it is no secret that the lockdown lift has relieved many student athletes. Not only will students be returning to campus, but they will also be making a satisfying and exciting return to sports. 

C/O Pixabay

The women's wrestling team has made much progress this season.  

Although it is not the most publicized sport at McMaster, the Marauders wrestling team has made a very good breakthrough this season. Just in their last home tournament that took place in November, the Marauders collected a total of six medals, three of which were silver and gold. 

Out of the six medals won by the wrestling teams, four were from the men’s, while the other two were from the women's team. One of the gold medal recipients (50kg weight category), Ligaya Stinellis, who is a part of the women's team, has spoken about how proud she was of the team and the extensive success that they have achieved this season.  

Having been in the team since her debut in her first year, Stinellis, now a fourth-year student, is considered a veteran in the team and her results have certainly proven that over the course of last year.  

“We have done really well and I am proud of it. We are currently in the top five in the country and are aiming to do even better. So far, we have had three meets and one club meet that we have taken part in. Overall, all of them went really well but I only managed to compete in two of them. However, none of us know what is going to happen from January onwards,” said Stinellis.  

“We have done really well and I am proud of it. We are currently in the top five in the country and are aiming to do even better. So far, we have had three meets and one club meet that we have taken part in. Overall, all of them went really well but I only managed to compete in two of them."

Ligaya Stinellis

When asked to expand on the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the sport as of late, Stinellis had a lot to say on the subject.  

“It was and still is taking a big effect on the sport. Since us wrestlers have to have close contact during our fights, there is simply no way of curbing the spread of the virus. So if someone has it in the team, practically everybody does,” said Stinellis 

However, she did mention that this semester brought her hope even though the future seems uncertain.  

“The fall semester was definitely the most exciting COVID-19 period for us. We had many tournaments and we got the green light to partake in multiple events around the province. Although that did bring us hope, we are now in such an uncertain period where we don't know what is going to happen. We were meant to have three tournaments in January, but they have been called off,” said Stinellis.  

On the subject of the new restrictions and Ontario University Athletics being labelled as "amateur," Stinellis felt that the label doesn’t quite suit the organization well.  

“Although to me the idea of amateur sports is when you're not getting paid, the OUA are much more than just an amateur organization. I feel that we should be seen as elite because there are so many athletes here that have olympic potential. It’s just going to kill our sport and it feels like there is no potential,” said Stinellis.  

Although the wrestling team has thoroughly impressed this season, there is still no word on what's next for them. Should current restriction be upheld, the OUA will resume after Jan. 27.   

With sports being shut down just over a year ago, Marauders reflect on their last games before the pandemic.

C/O Esra Rakab

It was March 2020, just over a year ago, when McMaster University decided to suspend or cancel all in-person classes, shut down sports and force students out of residences to completely close down its operations at the start of the pandemic.

For student-athletes, many would begin their individual home workouts, which seemed temporary at the time. One year later, this has become the new norm, as teams haven’t had a single game or match since the March 2020 cancellations.

After having missed an entire season, many of these athletes have been looking back at some of their best moments, and what made the 2019-2020 season so special for them. 

Declan Sweeney, a pitcher for the McMaster men's baseball team, recalls quite a few memorable moments during their season last year.

“Our first four games we played were [University of Toronto and Ryerson University], and the next day [University of Ottawa and Carleton University], and we ended up going 4-0 in those games. That was the weekend we realized we were going to be one of the better teams that season,” said Sweeney.

“Our first four games we played were [University of Toronto and Ryerson University], and the next day [University of Ottawa and Carleton University], and we ended up going 4-0 in those games. That was the weekend we realized we were going to be one of the better teams that season.”

Declan Sweeney

Sweeney reflected on the year that the team had, mentioning the somewhat frustrating finishes, but also the massive improvements in the team.

“This season was one of those that kinda sucked because we got walked off twice in two of our tournament [elimination] games, but overall it was a very successful season,” said Sweeney.

“We had the [Ontario University Athletics] Cy Young [winner], and the OUA MVP. Along with that, we made a bunch of improvements throughout the team and had a team we felt would be very good for many years. Although it hurt that we lost these two walk-off games on the absolute soul-crushing semifinal games, I felt that as a team we were developing in the right way, and were moving towards becoming the team to beat,” Sweeny said on the high points of the team.

Tyler Kato — a member of the men's wrestling team — had also been reflecting on his past season, but in an attempt to continue improvement.

“I had a bit of a stagnancy with wrestling where I wasn’t seeing the progress I wanted to see . . . I just wasn’t feeling the drive and the fire that I used to,” explained Kato.

Since the season’s end, Kato has worked to rekindle that fire he once had. Kato used the pandemic to continue getting better by working with other world-class wrestlers, which not only helped with fundamental improvements but also the mental aspects of his game.

“For me to wrestle with them [McNeil’s], nitpick their brain all the time, and have the McMaster coaching staff helping me through technique Zoom sessions myself. . . Through what I’ve been doing now, and realizing what world-class wrestling really is, I’ve re-instilled this motivation back into my system,” said Kato on his growth over the past year of training.

“Through what I’ve been doing now, and realizing what world-class wrestling really is, I’ve re-instilled this motivation back into my system.”

Tyler Kato

Another athlete who spoke out about his last season was Justice Allin, a running back for the men’s football team. After the successful year the team had, even bringing home the Yates Cup after snapping Western University’s 29-game winning streak, there was a lot to reflect on with many emotional moments for the team.

The last game of the season for the team was against the University of Calgary Dinos in the Mitchell Bowl, one of two semifinal games for U Sports football.

“Going into it we felt really good. We were prepared mentally and physically, and we went out there and played the best game that we could’ve. Due to some self-inflicted injuries — we like to call it — we lost the game. It was emotional, as is every last game, but for some of the guys you’ve grown up with and played against for a couple of years, to see them play their last game was emotional for me, and for everybody,” said Allin.

Despite a frustrating finish to the season, Allin still reflects on the year fondly, as one would expect after a Yates Cup victory.

“The tournament [Yates Cup] was probably the biggest thrill that I’ve ever had . . .Going into it — from the beginning of the year really — we were thinking, “we are gonna win the Yates.” We had our goal set for the year, and we won the Yates,” stated Allin.

“The tournament [Yates Cup] was probably the biggest thrill that I’ve ever had.”

Justice Allin

Allin reflects on the 2019-2020 season as a very successful one for the football team, explaining how significant of an achievement a Yates Cup victory was, and how well the team played to get there.

“On a team level, that’s the best we’ve ever done since I’ve been here . . . This year was very team-oriented instead of an I. We were all individuals part of a greater scheme. Everybody got together collectively under one idea, and that was to win as a team, and we got the job done,” said Allin.

OUA and U Sports cancel all games and competitions for the winter 2021 term.

Following the cancellation of fall 2020 sports by U Sports, the organization recently announced its decision to cancel the winter 2021 championships, thus completely shutting down the 2020-2021 competitive season. The championships cancelled include basketball, swimming, wrestling, hockey, track and field and volleyball, in both the men’s and women’s tournaments.

Official statement from U SPORTS / Une déclaration d'U SPORTS

🔗EN: https://t.co/b75Z0lXqdp /🔗FR: https://t.co/TNfQ98XdsG pic.twitter.com/i6TLptiS6c

— U SPORTS (@USPORTSca) October 15, 2020

As COVID-19 cases around Canada began to rapidly increase due to the second wave, it would not be feasible to hold games in tournaments while sacrificing the health of student-athletes and team members. With Quebec and Ontario being the greater sources of recent cases, having teams travel between each other for away games would not only potentially harm the athletes, but their families and friends as well. 

Furthermore, as provincial governments are now implementing indoor gathering restrictions, it would be difficult to continue planning for a season due to the unpredictable nature of the virus. 

#BREAKING: Ontario reported 1,042 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday - the highest single-day total recorded since the pandemic started.

— CityNews 680 (Inactive) (@680NEWS) October 25, 2020

"It is not logistically possible for teams to be travelling across the country at this time. Therefore, U Sports is in the unfortunate position where we are unable to offer the 2021 winter championships,” said Dick White, interim chief executive officer of U Sports. 

U Sports’ decision is also supported by Atlantic University Sport, Canada West, Ontario University Athletics and Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec. Despite “Return to Competition” being officially cancelled, “Return to Train” is still occurring, with guidelines being determined independently by each university’s athletics department, including McMaster University.

“We have a modified return to train plan, which offers student-athletes some level of engagement while socially distanced and in safe settings. It’s about maintaining fitness, engagement, but also supporting people’s sense of belonging. We obviously have to do this while under public health guidelines and those of the university, but we have worked internally with teams (i.e. basketball) and public health to come up with a plan that allows certain members of teams to get back into training, like a pilot project,” said Shawn Burt, director of Athletics and Recreation at McMaster University. 

“We have a modified return to train plan, which offers student-athletes some level of engagement while socially distanced and in safe settings. It’s about maintaining fitness, engagement, but also supporting people’s sense of belonging. We obviously have to do this while under public health guidelines and those of the university, but we have worked internally with teams (i.e. basketball) and public health to come up with a plan that allows certain members of teams to get back into training, like a pilot project,” said Burt.

Despite the clinic having reduced hours, the minimal contact athletes undergo in part of this training program limits the probability of major injuries.

As courses are completed remotely for the 2020-2021 school year, very few students are on campus and thus, have limited access to their support services. Alongside implementing the “Return to Train” program, the McMaster athletics department is also providing mental health support to their athletes and virtual opportunities to train. 

Burt explained that the department is working alongside the Student Wellness Centre to make appropriate accommodations for the athletes to ensure they get the support they need.

“We’re making [the Student Wellness Centre] aware of some of the changes among our student-athletes and aware of the unique stressors that go hand-in-hand with losing your competitive season, training and travel. Our team also contracted a social worker to conduct seminars to stay engaged and positive. The team continues to further look at other offerings to help the athletes at this time,” said Burt. 

“We’re making [the Student Wellness Centre] aware of some of the changes among our student-athletes and aware of the unique stressors that go hand-in-hand with losing your competitive season, training and travel. Our team also contracted a social worker to conduct seminars to stay engaged and positive. The team continues to further look at other offerings to help the athletes at this time,” said Burt. 

The Athletics department continues to offer department-wide seminars while teams also conduct their own support programs individually. 

With that being said, the cancellation of the winter 2020-2021 season was tough to digest for student-athletes, faculty and fans alike. 

“My heart goes out to all the student-athletes who did everything right to get to McMaster and qualify academically and then to have this taken it away from you is really difficult. It started with the cancellation of the fall season and then going to winter, it’s difficult for everybody from administration to coaches to athletes. Even though some of these things weren’t unexpected, it doesn’t make it any easier to share that news,” said Burt.

“My heart goes out to all the student-athletes who did everything right to get to McMaster and qualify academically and then to have this taken it away from you is really difficult. It started with the cancellation of the fall season and then going to winter, it’s difficult for everybody from administration to coaches to athletes. Even though some of these things weren’t unexpected, it doesn’t make it any easier to share that news,” said Burt.

Despite there being a possibility of a spring and summer season, it’s quite difficult to speculate the outcome due to the fluctuation of COVID-19 cases and budgets for schools. Ultimately whether it’s a safe decision is dependent on the province’s number of cases moving forward. 

UPDATE🚨@OUAsport and @USPORTSca have announced the cancellation of all sanctioned sports seasons through March 31st, 2021https://t.co/5G95ApPsFw

— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) October 15, 2020

With regard to financial consequences, the department of Athletics and Recreation has taken a major hit with fee reductions, overall revenue generation and changes to staffing, yet their commitment to support their athletes remains the same. Despite this financial impact, the university and its faculties gave their support to research initiatives and mental health support according to Burt.

With the possibility of school not even returning for fall 2021, Burt said the department is not leaving anything up to chance. 

“We don’t even want to contemplate sports not being there next fall, but we are planning for all situations because it would be irresponsible for us not to . . . The tricky part is we are going to be at the behest of the City of Hamilton and the province of Ontario on what we can do,” said Burt. 

While hoping that some sort of normalcy returns to the playing field with greater access to training, it’s important to maintain a positive mood while supporting the McMaster Athletics community during these difficult times.

Photos from Silhouette Photo Archives

By: Graham West

Ahmed Shamiya is one of McMaster’s newest head coaches, taking the reins of the wrestling team from Nick Cipriano. Mac’s long-time former coach was a staple of the wrestling program for the past 35 years and was recently inducted into the Wrestling Canada Hall of Fame in January.

Shamiya is one of McMaster’s most decorated wrestling alumni, having helped the team win the Ontario University Athletics Championships in 2015, with many more individual accolades in his decorated career. Still competing, Shamiya most recently placed silver in the 86-kilogram category at the Canadian Senior National Championship in March.

 

Shamiya knows the inner workings of the program and will apply this knowledge to how he runs things, and it will allow him to make the necessary changes to get to the next step.

“I know a lot of the things our program did really well,” Shamiya said “We’re not here just for performance but we’re here to build great people, great student-athletes and a great experience. That’s the ultimate goal. I want to continue that legacy and then just minor tweaks here and there that I think will improve the program or help the student-athletes.”

Cipriano left big shoes to fill after being named the national Coach of the Year four times, and won Mac multiple national championships, but Shamiya’s experience in Mac’s wrestling program means he shouldn’t have any issues taking over.

“It’s a little overwhelming, they’re definitely big shoes to fill, the man is a gentleman and a scholar, and he's done a lot for the program and the school in general,” Shamiya said. “The fact that I’m following him are definitely big shoes to fill, but the fact that he trusts me with the program after all that he's done gives me a lot of confidence.”

Coaching wasn’t always something on Shamiya’s mind, but is something he naturally has the capabilities to excel at because he’s always been a strong leader who was helpful to his teammates. His knowledge of the challenges student-athletes can face is going to be especially beneficial for the wrestling team going forward.

“I’ve always just had a knack for wanting to help others on the team, and I’ve always been passionate about leadership,” Shamiya said. “To be honest, I didn’t really pursue it, the opportunity just sort of fell into place. I feel like it was right place right time…You know what they say, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

Even though he is young, Shamiya has been mentored by Cipriano for years, transitioning from one of his athletes to his assistant coach. Although being recognized for his capabilities and earning the head coaching job has presented itself with its challenges, Shamiya is facing all of them head-on.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvcOPeMBoj0/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

 

“It’s such a specific job with such a specific niche that having a mentor is great and Nick has been the best mentor ever, he’s helped me a lot,” Shamiya said. “It’s still a lot to adjust to all at once, although I’ve been enjoying it and embracing it, I think the fact that it all happened kind of overnight and not a slow transition into it was a good challenge.”

Passion and love for what he is doing is not something that Shamiya is short on. His love for wrestling is definitely something that will help the Marauders reach their potential during his tenure as head coach.

“It doesn’t feel like work at all, I’m spending my time doing exactly what I love, helping people that are in a great position in their lives where they’re student-athletes,” said Shamiya. “They have the opportunity to build themselves into something really good over the next few years. It doesn’t feel like work. I’m really enjoying this and it’s the job of my dreams basically.”

Shamiya may be young, but he will no doubt carry on the tremendous legacy that has preceded McMaster’s wrestling team as he himself was on many winning teams. His capabilities as a leader and knowledge of not only the program, but how wrestling itself works, will certainly lead the team on a path to gold next year.

 

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Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

By: Graham West

On Feb. 23, Ben Zahra placed silver in the U Sports 76-kilogram wrestling championships, but for Zahra, silver isn’t quite where he wanted to be. Although his performance earned him his fourth Pita Pit Athlete of the Week, the third-year commerce student had aspirations of topping the podium in Calgary.

The second-place finish is the second time Zahra medaled at U Sports, winning bronze last year in a convincing bronze medal match. Even though the tournament just ended, the third-year wrestler is already looking forward to training hard to achieve his goal of finishing first.

“Next year I really want to win U Sport, it’s my big goal,” Zahra said. “I was hoping to do it this year, but I had a really tough competitor from Brock [University] so it didn’t really go as well as I wanted it to, but I’m still ok with a silver. It’s good progression because last year I came third.”

Injuries were something bothering Zahra on his way to capturing silver, making his journey to the podium at the national championships and improve his finish from last year that much more impressive. Battling through the mental and physical limitations of injury made his road to nationals even more difficult.

“This year it was a little different because I was struggling with injuries a little bit, I had a rib injury and a lower back injury that I was dealing with,” Zahra said. “Last year my body felt great, it was really healthy, but this year I had to adjust my practices accordingly because I couldn’t do a lot of stuff everyone else was doing.”

🤼 | RECAP

Ben Zahra bettered his 2018 showing by winning silver, while Connor Quinton claimed bronze at the @usportsca Wrestling Championships in Calgary. #GoMacGo https://t.co/mfaD1TuIHb

— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) February 25, 2019

One of Zahra’s main motivations on the mat is performing well for his team. Even though wrestling is an individual sport, they place as a team based on their combined performances. This plays an important role for when they’re competing, as it increases their support for each other, always being there to cheer each other on and make each other better.

“There’s this team aspect to it where if you win, you contribute to your team's overall total points and then at the end of the tournament, there's a team title for men, women and overall,” Zahra explained. “So when you’re wrestling, it’s in the back of your head and you have a lot of your teammates cheering you on, so you almost do it for them more than yourself.”

“Ultimately, it is an individual sport and you’re wrestling for yourself,” Zahra added. “But it makes the wins that much sweeter when you do it for your team and you help contribute to your team’s score.”

Zahra has been a perennial Pita Pit Athlete of the Week for the Marauder’s after he claimed his fourth title on Feb. 25. Recognizing athletes who have had notable performances every week, Zahra has regularly been named to the spotlight despite being in a sport that does not always get a lot of attention.

“It’s nice to get a free pita out of it, but I don’t really wrestle for that,” Zahra said. “It’s nice to get recognition but it’s not why I do it. I love the sport, it’s something I’ve done my whole life and those little things are nice, but overall I try not to pay too much attention to them.”

Wrestler Ben Zahra and @macwbball guard Sarah Gates are the @PitaPitCanada @mcmasteru Athletes of the Week, after their efforts this past weekend. #GoMacGo

READ ⬇️https://t.co/kThE2cWtX3

— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) February 25, 2019

Zahra knows he does not want his wrestling career to end with university athletics as the star wrestler has his sights set on the Olympics.

“[Club] Nationals this year are in Saskatoon. I’m competing up a weight class which should be good, I’m excited,” Zahra said. “It’s actually the qualifying year for the Olympics… so this year is what gets you on the seating platform for next year’s Olympic trials. It should be a really competitive nationals for us.”

Zahra has been one of McMaster’s best wrestlers during his time here and is well on the path to getting gold at next year’s championships. With possibly a trip to the Olympics in the near future, Zahra will be a name to watch in the Marauders community as he continues to dominate the mat.

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Photo C/O Kyle West

In the McMaster Athletics Hall of Fame, there are seven Black athletes, trainers and coaches who have made significant contributions to Marauder history over the years. Whether it was on the field or court or giving support to their team, the Black history of McMaster Athletics is undeniable.

Fast forward to today and there are a number of Black athletes at McMaster today who are also contributing to McMaster history. Although there is not yet an official Marauder Black History Month celebration, this article is the first step in celebrating the Black athletes who have given so much to this organization.

 

FOOTBALL

PAST: Kojo Aidoo

Running back Aidoo started playing for McMaster in 1998 and found immediate success after his first season, when he was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Rookie of the Year. Throughout his career, he continued to make Ontario University Athletics history for rushing and scoring. Helping McMaster get to their first-ever OUA Yates Cup Championship in 2000, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the OUA and the MVP of the championship game.

His outstanding talent made him a recipient of a number of awards including the Hec Crighton Award as the most outstanding player in Canada, the Howard Mackie Award as the Male Athlete of the Year in the CIS, the Ivor Wynne Award as McMaster’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2001 and being named a First-Team All-Canadian. Aidoo went on to be drafted into the Canadian Football League by Edmonton, playing for the Eskimos, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argos over the course of his professional career.

Image C/O marauders.ca

PRESENT: Justice Allin

Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

The second-year running back has been an explosive player for the Marauders since arrival in 2017. When an injury cut his rookie year short just after week eight, he had already posted consecutive performances of over 100 yards receiving, and even had 225 all-purpose yards against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues the week before.

Even though his season was cut short, Allin was still named to the OUA All-Rookie Team for his contributions to the team. After recovering from his ACL injury, his return to the field in the 2018 season may not have been reminiscent of his rookie season, but his contributions did play a part in helping the Marauders secure a spot in the playoffs.

Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons on and off the field, Allin and Mac’s playoff run ended after the first round. With a new head coach for the 2019 season, and the possibility of Allin’s predecessor Jordan Lyons leaving for the CFL, the possibilities of what Allin can do for the Marauders in the next few years is something many are excited to see.

 

BASKETBALL

PAST: Titus Channer

It only took one year for Titus Channer to make an impact on the McMaster men’s basketball team. The 1993-1994 OUA Rookie of the Year went on to have a successful Marauder career, full of nation-wide recognition. He was named Second Team All-Canadian in 1994-95 and 1995-96 and received Ontario University Athletics Association Player of the Year, a First Team All-Canadian selection, and the McMaster Athlete of the Year Award twice (1996-1997 and 1997-1998).

The accolades for Channer did not end there, as in his senior year he won the Mike Moser Award as the Canadian University Basketball Player of the Year and the Howard Mackie Award. It did not end there for Channer, as he went on to play professional basketball in Europe and represented the Canadian men’s national basketball team.

Image C/O marauders.ca

PRESENT: David McCulloch

David McCulloch, a Hamilton local and Cardinal Newman star, chose to stay home and come to McMaster instead of a number of other offers. Deciding to come to a school who already had a star point guard, Adam Presutti, and wanting to learn from him speaks volumes about McCulloch’s character early on.

Today, the fifth-year senior has turned into the team's leader and star, surpassing 1000 points during his time at McMaster. For the 2017-2018 season he was named OUA Third-Team All-Star and in the summer, he joined Team Toronto with Team Canada’s head coach Roy Rana. A consistent leader on and off the court, McCulloch’s departure this year as he graduates will no doubt be seen in the 2018-2019 season.

With a team mainly comprised of first years and transfer, hopefully, not only his talent but the way he carried himself on and off the court will be the blueprint for the young team. As for McCulloch’s future, whether it is basketball-related or not it, it sure looks bright from here.

 

WRESTLING

PAST: Lawrence Holmes

Lawrence Holmes found great success during his time here as a Marauder. Winning the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union 61kg three times, it is no surprise that he was also a two-time recipient of the Ivor Wynne Trophy. Holmes was also an international wrestler while attending McMaster, participating in the 1982 Commonwealth Games and the 1984 Olympics, and a two-time World Team member. Holmes was also a three-time Canadian Open Champion winning in 1982, 1983 and 1984. But it did not end there. Following graduation, Holmes continued to compete globally and made another Olympic appearance in 1988.

Image C/O marauders.ca

PRESENT: Simi Jayeoba

A newcomer on the scene, Simi Jayeoba is a second-year wrestler. As one of two Black female wrestlers on the team, Jayeoba is in the process of making a name for herself. Jayeoba ranked in the top 10 in Ontario’s 67kg category last year and won silver early on this year at the York University Open. As a Black woman wrestler, her just being able to compete at this level is something worth celebrating. The level I engineering student still has a way to go to for her wrestling career at McMaster but is an exciting prospect to watch along the way. Although there are no Black women in the Marauder Hall of Fame as of yet, it's not too late for Jayeoba to be the first.

 

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