Photo C/O Fraser Caldwell
For many players, the reach of sports extends far beyond the lines painted on the field. This is definitely the case for fourth-year midfielder Yordan Stoyanov of the men’s soccer team, who was awarded the Ontario University Athletics West Community Service Award.
“It feels nice to be recognized for something… I was doing because I wanted to just give back to the community, help out,” Stoyanov said. “That’s what I got in my first few years as well. I just wanted to give back.”
“It wouldn’t have been possible without all the other organizations and everybody that was a part of everything that I could contribute to. So I’d like to thank them all,” Stoyanov added.
— McMaster Athletics (@McMasterSports) 1 November 2018
The third Marauder in the last four years to win the distinction, Stoyanov was heavily involved in many programs in the McMaster community. Stoyanov was involved with Think Pink and other fundraising organizations, in addition to being the team’s representative for Mac Athletes Care.
“The hospital visits… I think it’s great because you can interact with kids and it’s just a great experience overall,” Stoyanov said. ”The leadership component of that is you talk to your teammates and you ask if they’re interested. It’s not just ‘soccer, soccer, soccer’; there’s another part of it. So that is something I really like.”
The importance of giving back to the community was something instilled in Stoyanov going back to his earliest days as a Marauder and drove him to want to be a part of initiatives like Mac Athletes Care. This also something that comes as second nature to the midfielder.
Photos by Catherine Goce
“In my first and second year, a lot of the veteran players would always talk to us about doing hospital visits, and you just get to be a part of something bigger,” Stoyanov said. “Another reason was because I like being involved in it. I want to have an impact on my environment and the people around me.”
Stoyanov’s large off-field impact does not discount his important place on the team. As one of the longer tenured players in the program, the venerated midfielder was one of the team’s co-captains this past season. This put him squarely into that leadership role, helping mentor younger players adjust to the new environment, especially with concerns such as balancing their academics with athletic responsibilities.
“My role would be to support the players during games or practices, even outside of the practice, outside of the change room,” said Stoyanov. “Just trying to set a good example for the new guys coming in, as one of the leaders of the team.”
Despite being unable to directly help his team in the later stages of the season due to an injury, Stoyanov saw this time as an opportunity to make an impact off the field for his team, which is in line with what he considered to be his role.
Although McMaster had a shorter playoff run than they would have liked this season, Stoyanov still sees a lot of positives in what he took away from the season, including the friendships maintained between the players.
“I felt we had a good start to the season, it was a great bunch of guys,” said Stoyanov. “I think we played well, play[ed] good soccer. We had some unfortunate results that could have went both ways. The start of the season, the goal was to make it to nationals, and the fact that we fell short of that is a little bit disappointing. But I think the overall attitude is very positive, and everybody will support each other throughout the season. So I think coming into next year, we know what we need to work on and I think we’ll be much better.”
Stoyanov hopes to play another year in the maroon and grey come next season, where hopefully they will be able to make a lengthier playoff run. Yet, whatever the result on the pitch, it is clear that a new season will bring more opportunities for Stoyanov to give back to his team and the Marauder community at large.