Last games are always sad, but these athletes didn’t even know it until it was over. 

In the 2018-2019 women’s basketball season, the McMaster Marauders won the national title for the first time. In the 2019-2020 season, they made noise in the playoffs, but couldn’t get by the first-seeded Western University Mustangs, losing by only one point. One additional basket at any point in the game could’ve changed that, but it was too late.

Having come off two back-to-back strong seasons, the 2020-2021 season could’ve come with another title push. Unfortunately, the women’s basketball team will miss the chance this season and for some fourth and fifth-year students, they will never get that chance again.

Sarah Gates, a member of the team who was named a third-team all-star last season, spoke out about a fifth-year player who won’t get their chance to play again. 

For our one fifth-year on the team, she didn’t even know her last game was her last game and that’s heartbreaking . . . We couldn’t even have a big celebration for her and everything she has been through as an athlete at McMaster,” said Gates.

For our one fifth-year on the team, she didn’t even know her last game was her last game and that’s heartbreaking,” said Gates. 

Missing the final year of eligibility has been difficult on many athletes, not just from the women’s basketball team. Brandon Chong, a fifth-year athlete on the men’s baseball team, discussed his final season, disappointed with how it ended. 

When we ended, I was injured actually, as I had hamstring problems, so I didn’t play as much as I could . . . I wish it didn’t have to end like that. At least one more at bat,” said Chong. 

When we ended, I was injured actually, as I had hamstring problems, so I didn’t play as much as I could . . . I wish it didn’t have to end like that. At least one more at bat,” said Chong. 

When asked about the missed season, he added that he would miss playing with his team. 

“I was hoping to get a healthy season at least and get to spend the last games with my whole team, because everyone has been great. The coaches have been great and we worked really hard for this,” said Chong.

The baseball player also stated that he will miss the Ontario University Athletics championships.

“We had a really good team — just the way that our team looked, it was just like man, we have a chance this year,” Chong added. 

Chong not only missed his final year due to virtual learning, but the last season he played ended in a disappointing fashion, having not been able to finish on the field with his teammates. Certainly not the way he expected his university career to finish. 

Joshua Nardini is a four-year member of the men’s basketball team. Between the missed season this year and the uncertainty headed into the next season, he might be another athlete that won’t have his final opportunity to play ball. However, he shared a very different perspective in these difficult times.

“It is unfortunate the situation that everyone is in, especially in terms of our situation of athletes not being able to have that opportunity to have that final year, or that one shining moment. One thing this pandemic has given me is a lot of perspective and if the worst thing that has happened to me this year is not playing basketball, then I’ll be okay,” said Nardini.

“One thing this pandemic has given me is a lot of perspective and if the worst thing that has happened to me this year is not playing basketball, then I’ll be okay,” said Nardini.

If Nardini had in fact played his last university game, his last time on the floor would have come as a 44-point loss, certainly not the way someone would prefer to finish their university career.

That is the unfortunate reality for many graduating students, who didn’t realize they had played their last game until it was over. They won’t ever get that second chance to redeem themselves, or have that one big game they always dreamed of.

Image courtesy of C/O Sybil Simpson

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