McMaster is adding a 37th program to the Athletic Department in time for the 2019-2020 school year.

The Marauders will reintroduce Nordic skiing as part of the athletic department and will be ready for the OUA Championships that will take place in February 2020.

The Nordic skiing program will be led by head coach Soren Meeuwisse who will take the student-athletes to numerous Ontario Cup events leading up to the 2020 OUA Championships where McMaster will compete 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 be the first program at McMaster to debut at the OUA Championships since the Marauders first competed in field hockey back in 2016. It is also the first new program to be added by the athletic department since curling was added for the 2011-12 season.

It will be a heavy workload for Meeuwisse who is taking the head coaching assignment as well as continuing her studies as she enters her fourth year of undergraduate studies in Kinesiology at McMaster.

Meeuvisse is well versed with OUA competition and McMaster Athletics as the Oro Medonte, Ontario native has been a member of the Marauders cross country program for the past three years and has competed internationally as a member of Canada’s national mountain biking team. In 2018, she was named by Cycling Canada to its group of four NextGen MTB athletes to receive targeted support and coaching as she looked to compete at next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

So how does she get the job of coaching Nordic skiing? Well, she has also competed in the sport. Meeuwisse is a two-time OFSAA champion in the sport at the senior level and continued to ski with the Marauders’ informal club when she joined McMaster. She not only will be coaching the team, but she will also be able to complete and train with her fellow student-athletes.

In a press release from the school, Meeuwisse said, "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. 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 postsecondary 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."

Joining Meeuwisse will be Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a member of McMaster’s Department of Medicine.

While Meeuwisse and Dr. Tarnopolsky have high hopes for the program, they are being realistic. "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."