McMaster student has a front row seat to Forge FC celebrations 

Image of a person holding a microphone and smiling

Mackenzie Barwell is using her McMaster education to launch a career in sports journalism. (Photo by Marisa Settimi/ @marsetphotography)

As Hamilton’s Forge FC celebrated their CPL championship in October, a McMaster student had the best seat in the house — as in-game host for the winning team.

“It was amazing, not only having the opportunity to host an event of that calibre, but also experiencing Forge FC’s fourth CPL victory after working closely with the team all season,” said Mackenzie Barwell.

In only in her third year of communications and political science at McMaster, Barwell already has an impressive sports journalism resumé.

Barwell started her working with professional sports teams in the Canadian Elite Basketball League, hosting for the Guelph Nighthawks in 2022, before the franchise moved to Calgary.

From there, the opportunities kept coming, and Barwell took each one as a chance to shine.

Alongside her experience as the in-stadium and digital host for Forge FC, Barwell was the social media host for Canada Basketball’s GLOBL JAM 2023, a host for Hockey Canada’s rivalry series, and recently worked her first live broadcast event as a TSN sideline reporter for Toronto Metropolitan University vs. the NCAA’s University of Connecticut.

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Mackenzie Barwell interviews UConn Forward Aaliyah Edwards during their game against TMU, broadcast on TSN. (Photo by Ben Carmicheal /@shot_byben)

“Watching the broadcast back on TSN with my family was a surreal experience,” Barwell said. “I learned so much about what goes into a live broadcast after being recruited by a co-worker and friend in Sport Media at TMU.”

Barwell credits her time at McMaster for part of her early-career success.

“People at McMaster want to see you succeed,” she said. “They want you to use university as a stepping stone to achieving your post-grad goals.

So if you know what your niche is, or you’re still looking to find it, think about what you like and then what you’re good at, and then create those opportunities for yourself.”

Barwell found that niche early.

“I had a general understanding of my ideal career path pretty early on in my life,” she said. “I grew up playing a variety of sports and was always passionate about everything the sports world had to offer. In Grade 11, a sports marketing class highlighted all of the behind-the-scenes operations that come with professional sports. Right away I knew I wanted to be involved in some way.”

Mackenzie Barwell sitting in the stands of a game.
Mackenzie Barwell wants to use her McMaster experience to break into sports journalism. (Photo by Ben Carmicheal /@shot_byben)

And although political science may be a left-field choice for sports journalism, Barwell is keen to break the mould and show that the field can be a stepping stone to a wide variety of jobs.

“I want to be an example that you are not limited to conventional expectations of an undergraduate degree,” she said.

“I love being in Political Science and of course Communications, as both are great supplements to a career in journalism. That said, I want to be someone who normalizes shifting students’ perspective from pursuing what they think they ‘should’, to utilizing their education and university career as a means to tapping into their niche or passion.

“From my experience, at least so far, that is where my success has stemmed from.”