Marauders busy on the world stage

McMasterWhile it is a regular occurrence to see McMaster athletes competing from coast to coast during the varsity season, the summer months provide opportunities for elite Marauders to venture abroad while representing their country on various national teams.

For a few McMaster athletes, this summer will provide a first taste of international competition, the realization of a goal long in the making. Others return to a familiar place in the national setup, occupying a larger role or simply seeing their duties shift as it comes time to meet the challenge on the field of play.

Director of athletics and recreation, Jeff Giles, believes the experience of competing overseas is a terrific tribute to the McMaster’s athletic program as a whole.

“We are very proud of all the Marauders that are representing Canada on the international stage this summer,” said Giles, who recently completed his fourth year in the director’s chair. “They are ambassadors for McMaster and showcase the outstanding character and ability of all the student-athletes that are competing in Maroon.”

Marauders who are positioned to compete on the international stage in the summer of 2013 are:

Mark Reilly, soccer

rp_primary_Reilly-FISUFour decorated years with the Marauders were enough to win Reilly attention at the national level. The McMaster forward’s scoring prowess led the coaches of Canada’s men’s soccer entry at the 2013 Summer Universiade to tab Reilly as one of three strikers to accompany the team to the tournament in Kazan, Russia. The event began on July 6, and Canada held a 1-0-1 record entering play on July 10 after an opening draw against France and a 2-0 win over Peru.

Canada’s crucial third match of the round-robin stage was against powerhouse Brazil on Wednesday (July 10). Reilly was pleased that the team was to play the Brazilians last, giving the Canadians an opportunity to get their feet under them at the event. “”They’re our third game, so we have some time to get used to the atmosphere,” Reilly explained. “Hopefully we can keep the ball out of our net and make some chances at the other end.”

Canada drew the heavily favoured Brazilians 1-1 to advance to the quarterfinal stage in Kazan, where the Canadians will face the host Russians on July Friday.

Cindy Nelles, rugby

Nelles hopes that the second time is indeed the charm for both herself and Team Canada. The Marauder sophomore returns to the Under-20 National Women’s Rugby Team this summer after touring with the team in 2011 at the age of 17. She and Team Canada return to the U20 Nations Cup in London, where the team finished third in 2011. This year’s event concludes on July 21.

Nelles indicated that her previous experience with Team Canada lent her some comfort and familiarity when it came time to dust off the jersey this summer.

“There [are] less nerves and I [am] a little more comfortable [this time],” she said. “In terms of my role on the team as well, I identify myself as a leader. [I’m] able to come in with some calm energy and motivate some of the other players, and help the tryout go a little smoother. Because I know that when you’re trying out for a national team for the first time, it can be very nerve-wracking.”

Sophie Bukovec, beach volleyball

Perhaps one of the most travelled McMaster athletes is one of the newest. Women’s volleyball recruit Bukovec has been all over the world as a beach player and has represented Canada at numerous international events, with stops in Cypress, Greece and Thailand. The summer of 2013 has already seen the Etobicoke native play in the Under-21 World Championship that was held June 19-23 in Umag, Croatia. Bukovec and her partner advanced out of pool play before losing to a German pair in the qualification round.

Returning to Canada in time to attend her graduation from Bishop Allen high school at the end of last month, Bukovec is preparing to represent Canada at the Under-19 World Championship being held in Porto, Portugal, July 10-14.

“I absolutely love travelling,” said the 6-foot-2 outside hitter. “Canada has such an amazing reputation which reflects on the way people of different nationalities treat you. It is a privilege to experience so many different cultures.”

Her busy summer on the beach will be great preparation for her move indoors this fall when she enrolls at McMaster and dons maroon. “I thrive on playing against strong competition,” said Bukovec. “It always makes for an intense and fun season.”

Jason Buckle, wrestling

rp_primary_BuckleAfter a sensational season, Marauder wrestling phenom Jason Buckle was selected for Canada’s Under-24 men’s national team and was set to head to Glascow, Scotland to compete in a senior competition for Commonwealth nations scheduled for the end of July. However, the Hamilton-born Buckle was recently informed that the host city had withdrawn and an alternate host for the event was being sought, leaving him in a holding pattern.

“I’m still training hard,” said Buckle. “It’s two workouts a day and spending time on the mat, and I hope to hear something about where I might be going in the next few days.”

If another venue for the Commonwealth event isn’t found, Buckle says he’ll still be heading into New York state in August for some cross border training at Cornell University of the Ivy League. Mac wrestlers had attended a training camp at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio in mid-June.

Nicole Roach, wrestling

Another Marauder wrestler, Nicole Roach, was named in March to the Canadian Jr. National team and has been training for the Pan American Wrestling championships being held July 12-15 in Santiago, Chile.

Having just completed her first year at McMaster, Roach has been representing Canada in age-group competitions since grade 10.

“I am very excited to have another opportunity to compete and win a medal,” said the native of Coldwater, Ontario near Orillia.

The 18-year-old Roach will be among the youngest competitors heading to Chilé, as the event will include wrestlers born in 1993 or later. After a stellar freshman year, she is looking forward to the challenge, adding, “It is always an incredible experience to compete at the international level and it exposes you to a whole new level of competition and excellence.”

Brittany Hicks, fastpitch

Compared to many of the Marauders who are making their first forays into international competition this summer, Hicks counts as a veteran of Team Canada. The fourth-year McMaster star was plucked away from her conference season in 2011 to compete at the Pan Am Games in Mexico, and has continued her involvement with the Senior Women’s National Softball team ever since.

The summer of 2013 brings with it two more events for Hicks and her Canadian teammates, as they travel to Oklahoma City, OK to compete in the World Cup of Softball from July 11-14, before moving to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the Women’s Pan American Championship from Aug. 8-17.

She gave a glowing review of her time with Team Canada thus far, saying that the awe of donning the Canadian jersey has yet to wear off. “It has been a dream come true,” said Hicks. “I’ve always dreamt of playing at an elite level. I still find it shocking to believe that I now play with “Canada” across my jersey.”

Nicola Colterjohn, water polo

Representing Canada is nothing new for Colterjohn. But this summer, the Marauder water polo standout finds herself wearing Red and White at the highest possible level. Colterjohn has long been a member of Canada’s national youth setup and a competitor in the elite Canadian Select League (CSL), but was selected for the first time as a member of the Senior National Team this year.

Her inclusion means that the third-year McMaster goalkeeper will suit up at the 2013 FINA World Championships, being held in Barcelona, Spain between July 19 and Aug. 4. She will serve as the alternate heading into the prestigious event, but Colterjohn is hopeful that her playing time – and her role – will grow with time.

“I’m going into this tournament as the second goalie so I’m really hoping that I get some playing time and am able to contribute to the team’s success,” she said. “Hopefully, I can move my way up to the starting spot and ultimately, be on the 2016 team going to [the Olympics]. But for now, World Championships is a new and incredibly exciting opportunity for me.”

Danny Demyanenko, Stephen Maar and Jayson McCarthy, volleyball

rp_primary_demyanekoIt should come as no surprise that McMaster’s men’s volleyball team will be very well represented on Team Canada this summer. When Volleyball Canada tabbed Canadian Interuniversity Sport Coach of the Year Dave Preston to run the national under-21 program for a second-consecutive year, it appeared to be only the tip of the iceberg for McMaster.

That suspicion was confirmed in May, when three rookie members of the Marauders were included in Team Canada’s final roster. CIS Rookie of the Year Danny Demyanenko and Ontario University Athletics All-Rookie selections Stephen Maar and Jayson McCarthy were each chosen to contribute as Canada looks toward the FIVB World Junior Championship, being held from Aug. 22 to Sept. 1 in the cities of Ankara and Izmir, Turkey.

The McMaster trio will help Canada build upon its success of a year ago, when the Canadians reached the final of the U21 Continental Championship before losing a close, four-set decision to the United States. Maar admitted that revenge is on his and Canada’s mind.

“We’d like to get to the semifinals [in Turkey], to have a shot at a medal,” said the Marauder outside hitter. “But I also really want to beat the U.S. We lost to them last year and we were right there. The feeling of losing will push us to be better this time.”

Madeleine McDonald, track

A first-year revelation on both the trails and the track, McDonald has already competed on her sport’s biggest stage this year. She, along with Marauder graduate Lindsay Carson, ran at the IFAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland and finished 47th overall and second among Canadians in the junior race.

This summer, McDonald shifts her focus to the track and the 3,000m distance, which she has been training at since returning from Poland. The goal is inclusion in the Canadian delegation to the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships in Medellin, Colombia, which runs Aug. 23-25. First, she’ll have to earn her way there by placing well enough at the Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec, being run between July 12 and 14.

McDonald admitted to being a bit overwhelmed in her first international outing in Poland, but will be better equipped to handle the occasion should she make the cut in Colombia.