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With multiple provincial championships and CIS medals decorating the halls of McMaster’s athletic centre, year one of Glen Grunwald’s reign has been a success.

“We’ve really took a step forward on a number of fronts. Four OUA championships is awesome, five national medals, unfortunately none of them gold, but it was so exciting, the pursuit of those,” said Grunwald. “Our teams, most importantly, are poised to continue their success next year.”

Year-over-year success is where McMaster athletics should take pride. Few schools consistently appear in coach’s polls and national championships as often as Mac does. The football team is a good example of consistency, as they appeared in their third Vanier Cup in four years.

As the teams continue to compete on the highest stage, Mac has cemented a winning culture, but Grunwald aims to do more than just win. When asked about what the culture of McMaster athletics is, Grunwald talked about people before wins and losses.

“It’s about the student-athlete and it’s about making their experiences as positive as you can. It’s more positive to win than to lose, but to the extent we have setbacks, we continue to understand what we can do better. It’s a culture of expecting success and expecting to continue to seek winning with constant improvement of the support of student athletes,” said the former NBA executive.

Success and a winning culture usually breed fan interest, but attendance of Mac sports is still lacking. Burridge Gym will see an above-average number of fans come out, but for a department that expects success, comparing itself with weaker departments is not a worthwhile exercise.

Grunwald says the department is looking at ways to engage the student body and Mac community. They will be reaching beyond McMaster too, trying to bring families in to show support. Non-football events are free for students to attend, while football, volleyball and basketball games were streamed online. The streaming initiative could be a major step in improving fan engagement, and McMaster’s games were some of the highest-quality videos in the OUA.

The one area Mac would like to improve is their finances.

“We’re trying to ensure that we have a sustainable operation here. We’re looking at both sides of the equation – cost and revenue – to be a successful athletic department and great recreational facility,” said Grunwald.

According to Grunwald, Mac is more focused on raising revenues through sponsorship rather than cutting costs.

This does not mean the athletic department is in a dire financial position. It is an example of the department trying to improve and stay ahead of the curve.

Grunwald beamed excitement about the future of Marauder athletics and their varsity teams, as well as the impending improvements to the recreation side of McMaster’s athletic department. The Student Life Enhancement Fund will be funding an outdoor fitness circuit and bouldering wall. Lighting for the track field will be added so intramurals can be played in the evening.

With Grunwald at the helm and some of the top coaches in the country behind him, Mac athletics is set to stay the course and continue to be among the top programs in the CIS.

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