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TMU women's basketball team stand on court
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Bold storylines heading into next athletic season

By Mitchell Fox

With the 2023-24 athletic season over, Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold sports teams are already preparing for the next year. 

While some squads will look to take further strides to improve this upcoming year, others will reset their rosters after sending off several senior players. Playoff upsets and heartbreaking results have teams hungry to bounce back next season, so there will be a lot of interesting narratives to follow. 

Let’s have a look at some of the top storylines ahead of the 2024-25 season:

Can men’s hockey avoid a complete reset?

The TMU men’s hockey team could have the most interesting off-season of any Bold team this year. 

They suffered multiple heartbreaks at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) this year after an electrifying season. They lost in double overtime of the Queen’s Cup final against the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivière Patriotes. They then fell short of a medal as hosts of the U Sports national championship, thanks to a 7-0 loss to the University of New Brunswick Reds in the semi-final followed by a 3-2 loss to the McGill Redbirds in the bronze medal game.

Now, the Bold are preparing for massive changes.

The hockey team hold their sticks in the air after a win

10 players celebrated their Senior Night in February, including three of their top four scorers. Third-year forward Kyle Bollers, an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) first-team all-star, has already made history as part of the first all-Black starting lineup in professional hockey, while fourth-year defenceman Cole Cameron signed with the Toledo Walleye of the East Coast Hockey League.

Similarly, the future of TMU’s Russian duo Daniil Grigorev and Artem Duda remains uncertain. Duda, a 2022 NHL Draft pick, will likely play in the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes organization while Grigorev could receive pro offers. 

With many players moving on, the team will have to make decisions about the future amid these changes. The prestige of a top-four team in the country could make recruiting easy, but a young squad with a new core might need time to get going.

Women’s volleyball steps into transition year

The women’s volleyball team went big this year, bringing in former OUA champion fifth-year outside hitter Lauren Veltman for her final year of eligibility and former Canadian national beach volleyball team member Julie Gordon mid-way through the season. They joined an experienced and confident team that went far but not all the way, falling in five sets to the Brock Badgers in the OUA semi-final

TMU women's volleyball players huddle around each other on the court after scoring a point

Seven roster players are expected to move on, setting the squad up for a transition year in 2024-25. The absence of Gordon, Veltman and Ashley Ditchfield’s offence will surely be felt and this year’s rookies will be looked upon to fill those spots. Meanwhile, a new leadership group will be counted on to guide a new class of recruits. 

Men’s basketball look to leave internal issues behind them

The men’s basketball team saw their season end in a dramatic fashion both on and off the court.

After a 74-67 loss at the hands of the McMaster Marauders in the OUA quarterfinal, Bold head coach David DeAveiro described the season as “disappointing in a lot of ways” and mentioned internal issues with the squad. 

“To be successful in this league, we have to all be connected and this year, we were not connected,” DeAveiro said following the Bold’s playoff exit. 

Third-year guard Aaron Rhooms echoed this sentiment, saying there were “distractions within the team.” 

TMU men's basketball player Adrian Stevens stars at the court with his hands in a fist over his mouth

Nevertheless, the team is looking to move forward. Fourth-year guard David Walker was uncertain at the end of the season whether he would return with just one year of eligibility remaining. However, fourth-year guard Jahcobi Neath, who the Bold brought over from the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I last off-season, could see a return to the court after missing the entire season due to injury. 

“I’ve got one more year of eligibility so I’m trying to see what I can do, but other than that I can’t say yet,” Walker also said following TMU’s post-season loss. 

With six seniors departing the team and internal situations to be mended, the squad will hope to find a mix that works with the talent already on the roster. DeAveiro said after the quarterfinal, the team would look to bring in transfer players in the middle of their U Sports careers to help bridge the gap between young guns and veterans. 

Varsity Club teams seek next stride

A variety of varsity club teams will seek to build on productive and successful years in 2023-24, with several athletes and teams looking to return to form and improve. Some athletes and teams won medals but others fell short—they will all seek to reach that mark in 2024-25.

The baseball team has faced a rocky road the past few years but they’ve shown promise. The big question is whether or not they can overcome the hurdle of the OUA regional qualifiers and more specifically, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. The team’s last three seasons have ended against their crosstown rival—the last two in the OUA Central division final—just one step away from the provincial championship.

Other squads looking to get over the hump and earn some medals are the cross-country and track and field teams. A young cross-country roster, led by new coach Zach Jones, had eight runners at the OUA championship—four men and four women—which was not enough to be eligible for team standings in either category. The track and field team is in a similar position, looking to do as much as they can with a roster featuring several athletes who broke school records this year.

Which version of the women’s basketball team will appear?

After upsetting the Brock Badgers in the quarterfinals, the women’s basketball team lost in the OUA semi-final to the Queen’s Gaels this year. The Bold entered the playoffs as the fifth seed with a 16-6 record.

The squad’s perfect 10-0 start to the season was disrupted by the holiday break. After returning to action in January, the Bold lost four of their first five games and ended 6-6 in 2024. 

The biggest storyline to follow for the Bold is which iteration will appear more often in 2024-25. They could look like the team that went 10-0 before the new year or the side that played post-December. 

The TMU women's basketball team's bench celebrates a three-pointer

This year’s squad featured a young core, yet still made the OUA semi-final, so they will be eager to improve and show flashes of the team they were on their unbeaten run this season. Only two senior players—Kaillie Hall and Sarai Bailey—are expected to leave the team. 

Meanwhile, U Sports Rookie of the Year Catrina Garvey and fellow first-year standout Hailey Franco-DeRyck will be looking to exceed the expectations they set in their first seasons. Head coach Carly Clarke will likely have lots to work with as she seeks to continue a strong run for the program.

Which ‘seniors’ will return to action?

A trend this year was for the Bold to use OUA eligibility rules to their advantage by bringing in athletes to return to action after finishing their undergraduate degree. Some athletes have returned to enrol in the Chang School—like Gordon and women’s soccer’s Alexia Rhooms. Others have pursued Master’s programs, like women’s hockey’s Emily Baxter or men’s soccer’s Chris Campoli. Bobby Tang, a member of the men’s volleyball team, even played while pursuing a PhD in medical physics. 

As such, there are questions up in the air about who might be available for some of the teams. Alexia Rhooms was celebrated as a senior but has eligibility remaining and so does Hall—who Clarke pleaded to return during her Senior Night speech. Other teams may have similar situations brewing.

Five of eight Bold squads made the playoffs this year and unlike last year’s darkest day, a few teams extended their seasons in the playoffs. With a lot of promise but no championships this year, surely some TMU teams will be looking to bring back as strong of a roster as they can in 2024-25.

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