By Larry Moko
Three former St. Mary Catholic Secondary School stars – Christina Buttenham, Hilary Hanaka and Julia Hanaka – helped McMaster Marauders win the 2018-19 Canadian university women’s basketball championship.
Taite Cleland, however, won’t be following in their footsteps at Mac next fall. Although both of Cleland’s parents work at McMaster, the Grade 12 basketball standout from St. Mary has committed to play for the Ryerson University Rams.
“I’m going to Ryerson to play basketball and study criminology,” Cleland said after her final match at the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference badminton championships in Burlington Wednesday.
“It just felt like the best fit both academically and athletically. I just love the environment of Ryerson and downtown Toronto. Their basketball team is really strong and I’ve had a good relationship with the coaches for many years.”
Cleland, an outstanding shooter, played three years of high school basketball at St. Mary — winning an HWCAA championship and finishing third at OFSAA in 2017. In addition, she has been a member of JUEL and prep school programs.
“I’ve grown up at Mac. I just wanted to go somewhere out of my comfort zone and have a new experience.”
Along with her women’s doubles partner, Rachel Grightmire, Cleland won one match and lost two during the double elimination regional high school championship badminton action at Hayden. No players from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association will be advancing to the OFSAA championships in North Bay.
In past years the duo of Grightmire and Cleland have captured a HWCAA women’s doubles junior badminton championship plus two city titles at the senior level. And they also achieved success as volleyball teammates at St. Mary.
“We both won OFSAA last year in volleyball and that was awesome,” said Grightmire, who plans to attend the University of Waterloo in the fall but only take part in intramural sports.
“Badminton is a lot of fun. I’m also playing soccer this year which I’ve never played before.”
Other HWCAA participants at GHAC included: Chloe Frias and Emilie Calabrese of St. Thomas More (women’s doubles); Tilen Groznik/Kristen Abboud of Bishop Ryan and Adam El Dora/Alyssa Giovannangeli of St. Thomas More (mixed doubles); Valentina Papaioannou of St. Mary and Chloe Umutoni of Bishop Ryan (women’s singles); Kyle Martin and T. J. Hughes of St. Mary (men’s singles); Kirk Rosos/Victor Esma of Cathedral and Luca Ramelli/Ben Xamin of Bishop Ryan (men’s doubles).
Source: Marnie Jadon