HAMILTON – To give Grade 8 students from J.C. Hill Elementary the opportunity to learn more about athletic opportunities close to home last Saturday, the students participated in inter-squad scrimmages during the half-times of both the McMaster Marauders women’s and men’s basketball games, and took tours of the facilities.
The 16 students were accompanied by Associate Director for Indigenous Student Services James Lamouch, and were guided through the many diverse buildings, fields and facilities provided by McMaster for athletics students throughout the day.
Troy Hill, Grade 8 Teacher, Basketball Coach and former vice principal of J.C. Hill explained the motive behind the trip.
“This was to experience life as a student athlete,” said Hill. “To show the kids what it would be like if they were in athletics and what they could do in post-secondary education. This was so that they could see it, and view it as more achievable.”
Offering students opportunities such as this to help build their futures early on is probably one of the most beneficial, as by 2020, 60 per cent of all jobs will require post-secondary education. But Hill picked up on just how many were focusing solely on lacrosse as a path into the future.
“I wanted to focus more on the athletic facilities because we have so many lacrosse players,” he said. “We’re just developing basketball on Six Nations, so I want them to see the options out there.”
But, leaving home is a big step for most looking forward to post-secondary education. Hill explained that he also wanted the students to experience the sense of family McMaster University offers.
“That’s the part about our people is that if you’re living on the reserve it’s hard to see what’s out there, aside from Syracuse, and aside the other universities that they seem to gravitate toward for lacrosse. They also got to see an actual basketball program.”
“It was important for them to see indigenous studies and let them be a part of it, so when they come off of the reserve and they come to a big university, they’ll have a place to call home and that’s a big aspect of it.”
After playing the first of two sets of basketball scrimmages, Isaac Squire, one of the Grade 8 students from J.C. Hill said that that experience was “really good”.
“They wanted to show us around and show us what they have to offer and stuff like that,” he said. “My favourite part was probably playing basketball, but we also got to eat here and they made Indian tacos and strawberry juice.
Although dubbing basketball a hobby of his, Squire said that he and the group were also shown the facilities; including the many alternate fields for the McMaster field lacrosse program.
“They talked about the opportunities and stuff too,” he said.