Back to the roster: Nine teams make their long-awaited return to varsity sports

After McGill Athletics announced that nine varsity teams would not be able to compete during the 2021-2022 seasons due to pandemic-related staff shortages, the teams are set to make a thrilling return for the 2022-2023 seasons. The returning sports include artistic swimming, alpine skiing, badminton, baseball, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, rowing, and woodsmen.

Back in 2021, The McGill Tribune reported on the athletes’ discontent over being barred from competition at the varsity level. The 2021 announcement left many McGill athletes disheartened, especially after previous lockdowns had halted their practices. Alice Saito, a U2 rower for the Martlets, shared her experience with the Tribune

“We were disappointed when McGill Athletics told us that we couldn’t be considered varsity because we were putting the same amount of work and commitment as we would in a

normal season,” said Saito. “It also prevented us from getting more racing experience in Ontario against the other teams that we would normally have in preparation for [Canadian University Championships.]”

After over two years, no one is more excited about the return of cut sports than the athletes themselves. 

“All of us have been training hard to get back in shape and show everyone, but mainly Athletics, that baseball is back and that it deserves its place on the varsity roster,” said Auguste Guern, a fourth-year infielder for the Redbirds’ baseball team.

Of course, the athletes affected by this cancellation are hard at work making up for the lost time. Not only did the cancellation affect the athletes’ abilities to stay in shape and on top of their training, it also had mental health implications for many. Not being able to play the sport they love at the varsity level amongst other athletes left many feeling isolated and unfulfilled.

For returning athletes such as Milo Young, a third-year student majoring in industrial and labour relations who has been on the squad since 2019, the comeback of varsity baseball brings renewed hope for the 2022 season. 

“I think we have a pretty talented team and a chance to be really competitive this year,” said Young. “It’s a young team too, so the future is certainly bright. Hopefully this season, we can take a step in the right direction to bring McGill baseball back to the dominant force it was.” 

Athletes across the board are hoping to restore their sport’s former glory despite being affected by the cancellation. This newfound motivation, combined with the desire to prove themselves to McGill Athletics, is sure to bring about riveting games and a captivating season.

However, athletes in their last years, like Young, are experiencing mixed emotions about their final seasons. Indeed, McGill’s cancellation of several varsity sports strongly impacted athletes who missed out on the chance to compete during the majority of their university careers. 

“It’s kind of bittersweet for me because I know this is my last season of baseball, but I’m just enjoying every minute being part of this great group of guys,” Young said. “It’s crazy that the last time I played for McGill baseball was as a first-year and now I’m graduating.”

With so many sports back at the varsity level, the McGill community is looking forward to cheering for their friends and classmates as they make their highly-anticipated return to the prized roster.

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