Hamilton, ON- When the starting lineups were announced, Pietra Kamstra heard her name called for the first time in her McMaster Marauders career.
It was the fourth-year forward’s final regular season game. It was seniors night. The game itself concluded with a 94-73 victory over the Toronto Varsity Blues on Feb. 18. The ceremonies before and afterwards though…
“It’s been a pretty special day,” Marauders head coach Theresa Burns noted. The Marauders had their alumni game earlier in the afternoon. Burns herself was honoured with a framed jersey – presented to her by Varsity Blues legend Michele Belanger – for becoming the second all-time winningest coach in U SPORTS history.
Their alumni and supporters were on hand to watch the current Marauders and soon-to-be alumni play.
After the game, each of the five graduating players – Kamstra, Sarah Gates, Mia Spadafora, Clare Sharkey and Arianne Soriano – were honoured with a portrait, flowers and pictures with friends and family. Burns then gave a speech about each of them before the players celebrated in the locker room.
Kamstra called it an emotional night. It sunk in for her during their usual pregame talk. Burns finished her talk, the team cheered and then it hit Kamstra. “I just started crying a little bit,” she said. “It felt real then.”
Going back to before it all again, Kamstra found the Marauders. She was looking into strong academic programs, researched McMaster and found out about their Degroote School of Business. She emailed the basketball team and hence the process started.
Kamstra committed to them. Then, she had just watched the Marauders win a national title and was excited about it.
Months later, she found herself as a teammates with those players – including Gates, Spadafora, Soriano and Sharkey.
Burns recalls Kamstra being very quiet when she came in. Kamstra recalls the tough transition – the new teammates, new environment, new everything. As she got to know her teammates more and more, she started to open up to them.
When she did so, her personality shone through. Burns called her the most positive person you’d ever want to meet. Someone who’s a hardworking, team-first player and plays her role. Someone who smiles.
That smile could be seen during the celebration. It’s fitting she was surrounded by her teammates during seniors night. They are who motivates her.
“I’ve made friendships in this program that will last a lifetime,” she noted. “That’s really where the positivity comes from.”
Over her time at McMaster, Kamstra also started to become involved in her academics and extracurriculars and forging even more friendships. She finished as an Academic All-Canadian. She’s the Vice-President of the Degroote Women in Business. She’s become an entrepreneur. Those friendships motivated her.
A couple of days before seniors night, Kamstra told Burns how she’s made some of her best friends at McMaster – friends for her whole life. She told her how happy and proud she is about that.
“She’s accomplished so much,” Burns noted. “She’s a great student so seeing that personal growth is really, really, really nice.”
On the court, she grabbed a rebound and had an assist. As the game wound down, one-by-one the seniors were subbed off to applause from the crowd. The five of them then sat on the bench together, arms wrapped around each other as time ticked away.
In the locker room afterwards, she and her fellow seniors listened to their classic warm-up song that they sing along to. They watched a video their teammates put together for them – photos of them together over time.
“Lots of hugs. Lots of tears,” Kamstra said.
As the Whistler native leaves, she said she’ll miss the game. She’ll also miss those moments with teammates. Such as when they’re laughing and goofing around before practice.
“I think those are the moments that really stick with you,” she said. “Those spontaneous laughs and fun.”
On top of that, as she was honoured on the court and celebrated afterwards, she did so with family and friends.
“Family is the most important part,” Kamstra noted. “Sharing it with everyone tonight is what made tonight special.”
Featured Image: Kevin Lassel/McMaster Athletics