The Marauders will cross a new frontier in 2019, with the introduction of Nordic skiing as McMaster Athletics' 37th program and a new competitor for the OUA Championship in February 2020.
Under the leadership of head coach Soren Meeuwisse, the Marauders will compete in a number of Ontario Cup events in the lead-up to the 2020 OUA Championships before representing McMaster at that stage for the first time.
"We are delighted to be able to offer a new avenue for McMaster students to compete and grow, with the introduction of Nordic skiing to our sport offerings," says McMaster Associate Director of Athletics and Recreation, Mark Alfano.
"Soren's rich history of excellence as a multi-sport athlete and a first-rate student at McMaster gives her all of the tools necessary to provide the enriching student-athlete experience that our Department prides itself on.
"She is exceptionally passionate, both in her dedication to her own training and craft and with regards to the advancement of her teammates. We have every confidence that Soren will build a program that can excel for years to come."
Nordic skiing will become the first McMaster program to debut at the OUA Championship since the Marauders first competed in field hockey in 2016. It is the first entirely new program to be introduced by McMaster Athletics since the debut of the Marauders curling teams in the 2011-12 season.
Meeuwisse takes on the head coaching assignment as someone well acquainted with OUA competition and McMaster Athletics.
Entering her fourth year of undergraduate studies in Kinesiology at McMaster, the Oro Medonte native has spent three years as a member of the Marauders cross country program, while competing internationally as a member of Canada's national mountain biking team.
With aspirations of competing at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Meeuwisse was named by Cycling Canada to its group of four NextGen MTB athletes to receive targeted support and coaching in 2018.
A two-time OFSAA champion in nordic skiing at the senior level while at Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute and later OD/Park, Meeuwisse continued to ski with McMaster's informal club when she entered the post-secondary level, and is excited to be able to compete and train with the Marauders team while serving as its coach.
"As a high-level athlete through my undergrad at McMaster, my involvement in varsity athletics has provided me with some of my best experiences and best friends," says Meeuwisse.
"I am so excited and proud to bring Nordic skiing to McMaster, because it offers a new community for students to find belonging, to pursue post-secondary athletics and to be empowered through sport."
"This is a small step in the ongoing process of becoming a stronger, more diverse and more welcoming university."
Meeuwisse will be joined on the Marauders staff by Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a member of McMaster's Department of Medicine, and both see the opportunity for success in the near future.
"We both see great potential for the success of this team, even in its first year, with many years of development ahead," says Meeuwisse.
"Our goals for this first year are to establish a sustainable training routine at McMaster, to organize weekend training and race at the Ontario Cup series and ultimately to have a strong showing at the OUA Championships in February."