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.

Image courtesy of C/O Esra Rakab

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