Keeping the best local players at home is just smart recruiting strategy for the McMaster women’s basketball team, given that Hamilton is a hotbed for high school girls’ hoops. The newest Marauder commit is one of those Hometown Heroes in Julia Hanaka, who signed her Letter of Intent to attend McMaster this September.
A graduate of Hamilton St. Mary High School, Hanaka brings a championship pedigree to McMaster, having contributed to three high school provincial basketball championships, while playing for legendary coach and former Marauder Rich Wesolowski.
“I have been to watch the Marauders play many times, and the support they get from their fans, and their super fans, is incredible,” said Hanaka. “There really is a warmth and a sense of family that is undeniable, and I knew I wanted to be part of that!”
“I am extremely happy to have Julia join our Marauder program,” beamed Marauders’ coach Theresa Burns. “She is a very intelligent student in the classroom and equally intelligent on the basketball court. Julia has been well coached and is another outstanding local talent that we are thrilled to have stay at home.”
A multi-sport athlete, who has also competed in volleyball, badminton, soccer, and flag football, Hanaka joins the Marauder family in more ways than one. She will get to suit up beside her older sister, Hilary, in the Maroon & Grey next season.
“When I really thought about it, I knew I would rather play with my sister Hilary, instead of against her,” said the 5’9″ swing player.
“Julia can knock down a perimeter shot or get herself to the rim, and defensively she can guard bigger or smaller as needed,” noted coach Burns. “That versatility is a great asset and when you combine that with her grit and level of compete, it’s exciting to think of her playing here for the next four or five years.
“Having Hilary and Julia here playing together is a really special situation and one we are all looking forward to.”
Along with her many team successes, Hanaka has received individual awards and was named to the all-star team at the prestigious SOSI Tournament hosted at McMaster.
“When my name was announced at a recent home game as a possible recruit, some of the fans came up and welcomed me to the Marauder family and gave me such encouraging words that I felt an immediate connection,” said Hanaka.
“I know the talent and skill level of the Marauders runs deep; my game can only improve by being guided, challenged and encouraged by these incredibly talented ladies and great coaching staff.”
The Marauders, No. 7 in the national rankings, return to Ontario University Athletics action Friday, Feb. 12 to play the 8th-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees in a clash of Top-Ten teams. Game time in the Burridge Gym is 6 p.m.