We are getting the month of December started with a recap of the Bates swimming and diving program's continued dominance of the Maine State Meet. This weekend, the women and the men won it for the fourth straight year. We will recap a competitive week for the squash programs and introduce you to Bates strength and conditioning coach Mike Seltzer. All that and more, on the Bates Bobcast!
Interviews this episode:
- 1:37 -- Caroline Sweeney '22, Women's Swimming (Female Bobcat of the Week)
- 6:46 -- Alex Bedard '19, Men's Swimming (Male Bobcat of the Week)
- 14:48 -- Pat Cosquer '97, Coley Cannon '19, Luca Polgar '20, Squash
- 27:39 -- Mike Seltzer, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Bates Athletics
Aaron: This is the Bates Bobcast. Our weekly podcast where we take a look at the week that was, in Bates athletics. My name is Aaron Morse and this week we’re getting the month of December started with a recap of the Bates swimming and diving program’s continued dominance of the Maine State Meet. This weekend, the women and the men won it for the fourth straight year. We will recap a competitive week for the squash programs and introduce you to Bates strength and conditioning coach Mike Seltzer. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast!
Aaron: In the fourth annual Maine State Meet, the Bates swimming and diving teams were victorious yet again. The Bobcat men and women have won the meet every year since its inception in 2015. The Bates women scored 1,105.5 points over two days to defeat runner-up Bowdoin by 97.5. And the Bates men scored 1,162 points, well ahead of second-place Colby.
Aaron: For the women, first-year Caroline Sweeney won the 200 and the 100-yard freestyle races. She also delivered strong relay performances, helping the Bates women take third in the 200 yard freestyle relay, second in the 200 yard medley relay and third in the 400 yard freestyle relay. For her efforts, Caroline Sweeney is our Female Bobcat of the Week!
Aaron: As a first year, Caroline, this was your first experience at the Maine State Meet. What were your impressions of how it went?
Caroline: It was so much fun being able to swim with all the other Bobcats and seeing how well everyone has done so early on in the meet because, yeah, we've been training really hard, but seeing everyone go that fast so early on gets me so excited for the rest of the season.
Aaron: You swam freestyle and backstroke. When did you first start swimming both of those and how did you come to determine with the coaches those would be your events here?
Caroline: So, I started swimming backstroke in high school and it just kind of came about because my shoulders were bothering me with fly and I thought, might as well try something else out and then it just kind of took off from there and I've been working on it and it's been going okay.
Aaron: I guess, every swimmer, freestyle is the first thing they learn probably?
Caroline: Yeah. It's definitely something you learn. Basics. You learn that pretty early on and then I tried doing butterfly and I've just been trying to grow my strokes and get stronger and everything else as well.
Aaron: So, relay versus individual events, for you, what are some similarities, differences, I guess, for your approach?
Caroline: I definitely think I get more excited for relays because it's all about the team at that point and you put everything you have in that pool. I definitely get excited for my individual events because I think the same extent, I'm swimming for Bates now and this is all I gotta give and I gotta give everything I have. So, I definitely, I think, every time I go up on the blocks, I'm like I gotta give my best effort and just do it for the team.
Aaron: When did you start swimming growing up?
Caroline: So, I started swimming when I was really young. Just playing in the water and then my brothers started swimming competitively and I wanted to be like them. So, I followed in their footsteps and I've been swimming competitively since I was seven years old.
Aaron: When did you decide, Oh, I can probably swim in college?
Caroline: I just pretty much continued with it and I played soccer as well but then I just decided, you know, I love swimming. I love being a part of a team and so, around when I had to decide for high school, I was like this is it. This is the sport for me.
Aaron: Was there a lot of competition with your brothers? Like in the pool and stuff?
Caroline: I like to say yes but definitely was not. They were a lot faster than me. But they definitely helped me with my technique and they're huge supporters, so I'm super thankful for them.
Aaron: Terrific. Then, Bates. So, how did you decide this was the place for you?
Caroline: So, I remember coming here, like my first visit and I got those butterfly feelings and I was so excited. Then, I got to sit in on some classes and I got even more excited. Then I talked to coach and I saw the team and I was like this is definitely the place for me. I'm in love with it. You have the small classes but you also have the big school feel where no matter where you go you can meet someone new but also have a friendly face. So, having that and then having the balance between a rigorous academics but also having competition and all that in the pool was just, the school for me.
Aaron: Being from Connecticut, were you familiar with Bates growing up or when did you first come in contact?
Caroline: I had a family friend attend Bates, and she would always rave about it and say how amazing it was and then it popped up. I thought about and then I did more research and I talked to coach and I was like, I definitely think I want to be here.
Aaron: Speaking of Coach Casares, what's he like in terms of the training and everything because I know it's pretty intense?
Caroline: Definitely intense. He knows how to push us to our limits but he's so positive on deck. He always knows how to get you riled up and even when you think you've given it your all, he believes in you at times when you're like, "I don't know if I can do this" and he's like, "No, you can, like you totally got this." So, he definitely pushes us but he also believes in us, which is awesome.
Aaron: This weekend you have a meet with Dartmouth, on Friday. What are your thoughts on that? An Ivy league school coming to Bates to take on the Bobcats?
Caroline: Yeah. It's definitely going to be very interesting, because they are such a strong team but I think it'll be very good for us because they're going to push us but it's only going to make us stronger in the end.
Aaron: In terms of being a first-year here, what are maybe some of the senior leaders, some of the captains, for the women's swimming team, told you about what it takes to succeed here at Bates?
Caroline: They definitely talked about the basics. Time management. Talking to your professors. But they've also said you can rely on the team. We're here. Everyone's here for help and it's also the idea of, we're all in this together. So, if someone's struggling with a class, someone else has probably struggled with that. It's also, in the pool, have fun with it and everyone's here supporting you.
Aaron: Perfect. Caroline Sweeney. Female Bobcat of the week. Thanks so much.
Caroline: Thank you so much.
Aaron: For the men’s swimming and diving team, senior captain Alex Bedard won all three breaststroke events and helped the 200-yard medley relay team take first place in their race. Bedard, a four-time All-American, is our Male Bobcat of the Week!
Aaron: Fourth year of the Maine State Meet, so it started when you were first year and now as a senior, how have you seen the meet change, if at all, or growth through the four years you've been here at Bates?
Alex: It's been really interesting. The first couple years, it was just mainly, UMaine Orono, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby ... but now we've added University of New England, Maine Maritime, St. Joe's, a bunch of other schools, which makes it a lot more fun because those are a lot of teams we don't usually race, so it's great to get some different competition out there.
Aaron: Terrific. Then, obviously, you won three events, I believe, in the breaststroke individually and you were also a part of our victorious relay team, what makes the breaststroke the stroke that you prefer?
Alex: It's always been for the past five or six years it's been just something that came pretty natural to me. I really just enjoy doing it in practice but also just at Bates, ever since I was a freshman, there's always been a group of four or five fast guys who swim breaststroke, just to train with and it makes it so much easier to go fast in practice when you have a good group of guys training with you.
Aaron: Well speaking of that, obviously the team graduated some top level talent. Guys like Teddy Pender, Jonathan DePew, so on and so forth. So, what's the team like this year with maybe a little bit younger squad, but also with senior leaders like yourself?
Alex: It's been really interesting because we do have a really large freshman class. The largest since I've been here and seeing them all grow and just be able to complete practices better and understand how our training works, it's really interesting. As a captain, giving them advice when they need it, and making sure they're comfortable to ask questions if they're not understanding something or if they have a question about how we train or how we race. It's been really rewarding to see them all do really well so far.
Aaron: You and Rory Collins are the two captains, right?
Aaron: So, we talked to Rory before the season, what's that dynamic like? I believe you two are also roommates?
Alex: We are. We've been roommates for three years now and it's really great because we're comfortable enough with each other that we can hold each other accountable and we understand how we each work and it really play's off ... we play off each other really well and it makes things really smooth and easy and I think it really helps us out.
Aaron: Now, this Friday, home meet, Dartmouth. A little different, isn't it?
Alex: Yeah, it'll be some great competition. Ivy league school. The Ivy league has some really fast swimmers. So, it'll be different but hopefully we can surprise some people and get some wins in there.
Aaron: You're from New Hampshire, right?
Alex: I am.
Aaron: So is Dartmouth. You're familiar with them growing up or anything?
Alex: I actually went to a swim camp at Dartmouth in high school and it's a great facility up there. They've had some national level Division I athletes come out of there and I think ... some people think it'll be maybe not too close but I wouldn't be surprised if we make it a little closer than Dartmouth would like. So, hopefully we can surprise some folks.
Aaron: Does it add some extra excitement for you personally being from New Hampshire?
Alex: It's really interesting because I have some friends who have gone to Dartmouth and swam at Dartmouth. So, it's a bit of a homecoming, I guess.
Aaron: Well, they're coming to you though. How exciting is it to host them?
Alex: Yeah, it should be a lot of fun. We don't have to make that drive. We'll be able to sleep where we normally sleep. We'll be a little more rested than them in that sense and hopefully we can really go and get em'.
Aaron: Because you've, obviously competed against the University of Maine every year at the Maine State Meet so you've competed against Division 1 opponents before but Ivy league is probably a little bit different level than UMaine perhaps, right?
Alex: Yeah, Ivy league is pretty elite mid-major Division I swimming and it's different, but I think it'll prepare us for NESCAC's when we're going up against a lot of good competition then and also just nationals because swimming against fast people always helps you out whether you're winning or not.
Aaron: Tell us a little bit more about maybe the Maine State Meet. You were a part of a victorious relay as well, some younger guys helped with that too, right?
Alex: Yeah, it's really great when I get to be on relays with some of the first-years just because I get to see how they perform under pressure and if they like to really get excited for the team relays. So far, everyone I've been on relays with is getting really excited and it's great to see them care about the team just as much or if not more than their individual races.
Aaron: Who are some guys who have really stood out to you so far in the young season?
Alex: So far, I'd say Andrew Hall has been a great competitor and a great practicer. He's a fellow breaststroker so I get to train with him a lot but also from the sprint lanes, Dan Waterland and Chris Draper have really stepped up to the plate when it matters most in big meets and they've taken down some pretty fast competition already.
Aaron: So after the Dartmouth meet, I believe you have the training trip. You don't have a meet again until January, right?
Alex: No, we don't. We will be mainly just working. Swimming about four hours a day, which has its toll but it's a great time because it brings our team closer together and it also gets us ready for the second half of the season.
Aaron: So how is that approach? BecaUse I know the training can be hard and Peter's even said sometimes the training is so hard that temporarily it slows you down but in the long term, it speeds you up.
Alex: Definitely if we had a meet right after training trip, it would be tough to bounce back and expect to go best times but once we start resting and get to the championship season, you see all that hard work pay off. So, it's a bit of a delayed gratification but you just have to trust your training and I've learned to just trust Coach Casares and know that he knows what's best for me. So, I just do the practices and know that by the end of the season, I'll be where I need to be.
Aaron: Yeah, I mean the results kind of speak for themselves with the success of NCAA's for the men's team, kind of unprecedented in the history of Bates, right? I mean, how proud are you to be part of this group that's made such an impact?
Alex: It's really amazing. I always hoped to get to the national level at Bates and getting there on relays and being able to score in four relays, which is the most the men have ever scored in in one year, was just so amazing and with that group of seniors that I was there with was just ... I couldn't have asked for a better group of guys. Just on the last day, finishing up, it was just so surreal to be done and it just hit me that they weren't coming back and it was a tough pill to swallow, but that group of seniors, all of them, was just so awesome to train with and race with and be teammates for.
Aaron: It's a long season in terms of it's kind of spread out into March and what not, but what are your thoughts on the remainder of the year and some of the goals you have in your mind?
Alex: So far, right now, the short term goals are just get everyone to training trip, get everyone healthy. Keep them healthy and make sure the team as a whole can really be ready to perform but once we get towards that end of the season, I think with the depth we have on both the men's and women's side with big freshman classes and two very fast freshman classes, I wouldn't be surprised if we jump up the NESCAC leader boards, which I think could really make some noise in the NESCAC because I don't know if a lot of other teams see us coming but I think we're poised for a pretty serious championship season.
Aaron: Excellent. Alex Bedard. Male Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.
Alex: Thank you.
Aaron: The number 18 nationally ranked Bates men’s squash team defeated Bowdoin for the 29th straight time on Wednesday, with the Bobcats winning 8-1. The number 18 nationally ranked Bates women’s squash team blanked the Polar Bears 9-0 for their fifth straight win over Bowdoin. On Saturday, junior Luca Polgar and senior captain Kristyna Alexova earned wins at the top of the ladder in the women’s team’s road loss to Brown. Meanwhile, on the men’s side, senior captain Coley Cannon won his match against the Bears. Then on Sunday, the Bobcats welcomed perennial power Trinity to town, with the women earning a pair of victories thanks to first-year Natalie Bachman and senior Katie Bull. Sophomore Dylan Muldoon won his match against the Bantams on the men’s side. Both teams are now 2-3 on the year. To update us on the teams, we chatted with Polgar, Cannon and head coach Pat Cosquer.
Pat: I think playing Bowdoin at home is always a fun experience for the kids. It's great to have our fans, faculty members, and parents and everyone come out and support our team. We never take it for granted that we play well against Bowdoin. That's a special thing for our school and for our team and for our program, both men's and women's teams. The women have dropped a couple matches to Bowdoin in the past few years, so, it's nice for them to get a resounding 9-0 victory. That means a lot to us moving forward and same thing for the men. The Bowdoin team has gotten a little bit better and we just don't want to take that for granted. So beating Bowdoin at home is just a special thing for us and for Bates College and so, we're just doing our part.
Yeah, the weekend was tough. It's good to travel. It's fun to travel but ... I think we had a ... we brought a knife to a gun fight as Taylor Swift would say and that Brown team, both teams were good and they were at home and they had the odds in their favor. So, to go up against them at home was challenging. I think the effort was there. Both teams showed a huge amount of effort and it sounds corny as a coach but we tried really hard, close in many respects. Coley won his match on the men's side and Luca and Kristyna won their matches on the women's side and it's nice. It's nice to not get blanked and get shut out. At the same time, I think it's still early in the season. It's the fifth or sixth match of the season and if we play that match six weeks from now or two months from now, I think we have a better shot. We're still getting there. We're still getting fit. We're still getting into what's expected of us. I think the first years are still kind of learning the system and reacting to some of the things the captains are doing and coaching staff and all that. So, we'll get there but it's a good experience to go down to Providence for a night and play Brown and Ivy league team, Ivy league program and all of that.
The Trinity match is a whole other animal. We're friends. We all kind of know each other from Junior Squash and all that stuff and so, it's a little bit of a mental exercise to sort of adjust. We, I think the world knows in squash, that Trinity is the top and so, it's sort of a ... we don't want to fall into that where, "Oh, they're better than us and we'll just kind of try our hardest and see what happens kind of thing." We want to go and take it to them and in many respects, we did yesterday. That effort was really great and Coley maybe could say, in years past, I think that effort yesterday was probably the best effort we've shown against Trinity, especially being at home Sunday morning after coming back late on Saturday night. I was just really proud of both teams. The way that they responded to that and the way they fought through. Obviously to have Dylan Muldoon win it at number 9 is a cool thing for him and cool thing for the men. Kristyna was in there at number two. Luca had a great match at number one. Coley winning the first game and Mahmoud winning the first game. We were there. They dropped a few guys, but who cares, right? We were there. I think it all kind of bodes well for the next few weeks of our season and the next couple months.
Aaron: Coley, I wanted to ask you as a senior captain, Pat touched on the effort the guys showed against Trinity yesterday, what were your thoughts on this past week? Obviously, 29 in a row against Bowdoin must feel pretty good.
Coley: Yeah, it does. I mean 29 wins in a row, that dates back to 2002 I believe. People look at that record and it seems easier said than done. I mean, that matchup, it's sometimes easy for us and sometimes hard. Against the Maine schools that we saw last year, we had a tight one with Colby and I was telling my guys earlier before we started that match that we should never underestimate a team. They had a great recruiting class. Their freshman class, I believe they had three in their starting lineup and so, a few of our guys had tough matches, but we were able to get the 29th win there and that definitely felt good going into this weekend.
Aaron: For sure and Luca, always a nice to get a win for you individually, a win over an Ivy league opponent right there on Saturday. The very next day though, I understand a very physical match. What were those two days like for you?
Luca: It was definitely very hard to ... especially because of traveling down to Providence and then traveling back, but mostly the mental part since that was our fourth and fifth match with Brown and Trinity so, before that, I haven't had as tough opponent and the Brown girl, I haven't played her before. So, I definitely wanted to go out there and do my best and luckily I came out strong and came on the top with a 3-1 win and the following day against Trinity, that was the hardest match I've had this season so far. I lost three-love but I feel like there was more in that match than the scores show. It was definitely a very physical match. I took a couple of hits but I'm happy with the way that I played, definitely. Maybe I could improve on my mental game, I guess, but, but it's a good start.
Aaron: Following up on that. You touched on, you never played the woman from Brown before. When you have a match like that ... When you know it's a top player, but you've never seen them, what's your approach?
Luca: For me, I usually go in with a set game plan with the intention that being prepared, I would have to change that. So, I usually come on strong and try to move up, volley everything. Try to hit the corners and then, if that doesn't work, change the pace, which I eventually had to do after the second game, which I lost. So, I usually do that and then just make sure I stay in focus until the very end.
Aaron: Then Coley, you had the win against Brown as well. Your opponent, you know playing pretty high up the ladder there for ya, what did you see from your opponent and what was your approach in that match?
Coley: Well so, in that match, it was a weird scenario, because I had already known that we had lost to Brown. Playing the fourth spot in 3-court system, you go on court last, so, it's either the match is on your shoulders or it's already over. So ... and the same thing happened with Trinity on Sunday. You have to go into those matches, kind of, with an individual mentality. Getting this one for yourself. As much as I love representing Bates as a team, it was nice being able to wrap my head around my own victory even though the team had already lost. It's hard to go out there and still keep that same mentality that you would have before. So, I was playing a freshman and that was actually his first match of his college career and it was a pretty interesting match. I got the first game, then went down 2-1, and I was incredibly tired in the fourth and fifth. Then in the fifth the guy actually had an injury on court. He drew blood and then you have to go clean the court up and you have to get wrapped up and I was able to recover there for a few minutes and talk to coach and talk to some of my teammates for some support. Then I was able to grind back in the fifth, so that felt really good to get that victory.
Aaron: One of the things about squash that I love is the players coach each other a little bit between games and what not. As a senior leader, who are you really working with this year?
Coley: Well, it depends. Whoever's reffing your match usually is the one to talk to you in-between games. With that being said though, you sometimes get lucky depending on when you're playing. So, if you're playing last, a lot of the other courts are sometimes done. If you have a closer match or if there's a lot riding on your match then coach Pat is going be right there to support you as well. So, I actually had a lot of guys talk to me in-between games especially in the latter half of the match, but I usually talk to the guys that are reffing me, Garon or Jesper, at the five and six spots.
Aaron: Gotcha. Well, Jesper, one of the first-years this year, obviously, he's already playing fairly high up the ladder. What have you seen from him?
Coley: He's shown incredible talent. I can't wait to watch him over the next four years. It's unfortunate I've had only one year overlap with him but he's really shown a lot of progress this fall and I like watching him take on a lot of responsibility and playing at such a high ladder position early on. That's hard when you ... I mean this past weekend against Brown, he was facing a senior with a posse of about 30 of his guys getting really rowdy right out to the court and he stayed strong, with a strong mental game and he was able to fight really hard and unfortunately lost in five but he played out of his mind and that's all I can ask of these guys.
Aaron: Great. Luca, you being a junior. You're playing the number one position. There's some first-years who are making a big impact for the women as well. What have you seen from them?
Luca: Yeah. They're all working really, really hard and obviously it's really hard to come in as a freshman and play college squash for the first time, but I think they're taking on the responsibility very well. Natasha Jones playing at five. She has one of the best records on the team right now. The other two freshman are doing just as great. Natalie. Natalie won against Trinity, which is just a huge, huge win for her and I'm really, really happy for her. I really can't wait to see their progress that they're making.
Aaron: Yeah, I was going to say, for the women, Natalie and Katie Bull both got wins against Trinity. Katie, that's her second time beating someone from the Bantams, right?
Pat: Katie's second time, yeah. Katie's been through a lot. Up and down. Now playing at nine as a senior. It's nice to be able to put her out there at number nine knowing that she's so experienced. Especially, against Trinity at home, against a player who is maybe playing one of her first matches. You just expect ... and it sounds crazy to say against Trinity, but you almost expect Katie to win at that spot. You look at it on paper and as we all know, we don't play the match on paper, but you look at it on paper and you say Katie can win that match. She doesn't need a lot of coaching. She doesn't need a lot of prepping up during the match. She's been through it all. She's been through losses to Bowdoin and wins against some big teams and so she knows exactly what we expect. She knows exactly what the women need and she goes out and she gets it done. It was amazing to watch Natalie and Katie win against Trinity. That's huge for us. That's huge for the team. That's huge for them.
Aaron: Pat mentioned something, on paper. I know U.S. Squash has those rankings in terms of numerical rankings for players. How much of that can be a trap? Do you guys try to avoid looking at that even?
Coley: Absolutely. I try not to look at that at all. I tell the guys on the team as much as I can, it's not ... this game in the college level is not nearly as much about skill as it is fitness and heart and wanting it. You can go out there and kill yourself with just straight rails over and over and over again. If they're tight and if you can keep doing them forever then you can beat guys who can hit those cross-court knicks and straight chops with higher level skills and better hands. That really shouldn't stop you from thinking about a win at all. I mean, against Trinity is a perfect example. Those guys that we were playing had ratings that blew us out of the water but a lot of us held strong with them and we even got a win at nine there and it happens. It might not happen for five of our guys but it's going to happen for one or two. That was kind of our goal with Trinity. We just kind of wanted to have them leave the building a little bit scared of Bates and it was nice to be able to do that. So, that was cool.
Aaron: Luca Polgar, Pat Cosquer, and Coley Cannon. Thanks so much. We'll check back in in about a month.
Pat: Thanks Aaron. Happy Holidays everyone.
Aaron: The men’s basketball team fell at Babson on Wednesday and dropped another road contest at Saint Joseph’s on Saturday. The women’s team also fell at Saint Joseph’s, the Bobcats’ first loss of the season. The teams play a combined five games this week, starting Tuesday night with the men visiting Husson and the women visiting Colby for a non-conference game against the Mules. The women’s basketball program is helped out by assistant coach Mike Seltzer. Seltzer does more than that though, he is also the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Bates athletics. This is his third year assisting the women’s basketball team, and for the first time, he joins the Bobcast.
Aaron: Mike, first of all, give us an idea how you first got connected with Bates College.
Mike: Around 2010, I actually met my future wife who works in our admissions office and that's really how everything started. As we started dating and I started to meet the coaches and know everyone on campus, I was training privately in Portland, working with a lot of high school and college athletes out of a gym that I rented space from and kind of one thing led to another. First couple teams that I worked with were the soccer teams, men's lacrosse team, and then slowly but surely everyone else kind of started asking for my input or whatever I could offer and that kind of just snowballed into where I am now.
Aaron: What's your background when it comes to strength and conditioning? Did you study, do this type of work in college or how did that go?
Mike: Yeah, so I took a different road to strength and conditioning than the traditional road. I went to a small liberal arts school in New Hampshire and I was a basketball player and so, strength and conditioning, we didn't have a coach. So, we just kind of followed the lead of our upperclassmen. Looking back, it wasn't exactly the right programs for us to be doing but it was a little bit more old school. But, I studied business. So, I went out of college to make a lot of money in business and started coaching and having parents of young athletes ask me to train their kids in the weight room, which led me to research and study and one certification that led to another and eventually I left the shirt and tie world, which I wasn't fond of anyway and yeah, started diving directly into strength and conditioning.
Aaron: So, from a coaching perspective, you're also obviously an assistant coach for the women's basketball team. How did all that come about, going beyond just strength and conditioning into also, helping out Alison and Christina?
Mike: I started coaching basketball directly out of college just helping out with my old high school team and then as my coach moved on to other schools, I would coach his freshman team or be involved at the high school level ... some AAU programs. Then, when I moved to the southern part of the state, I was an assistant coach for USM men's basketball, for three seasons. Then, with all the strength and conditioning stuff involved in that, and then it became Falmouth High School for a couple of years. So, I had Tom Coyne for a year. Then, when Alison took over, the second year she was here, she asked if I wanted to help out with the team. I had not been involved in coaching basketball for three or four seasons, I can't remember how many it was. So, talking with my wife, we thought it was a great idea and it's been a lot of fun. So, that's kind of how I got in with assisting Alison.
Aaron: So, this year's women's team, obviously very exciting, a lot of youth, right? A lot of first-years. What's that been like so far?
Mike: It's been a lot of fun. They're a great group of young women and every day has been kind of been a new development in practice. We're moving the scale up. She's recruited in a lot of talent with our first-years and the energy in practice has always been good. It's always been great. So, they play really hard, we're competing and we're young and that's part of the building process but I think we're 3-1 so, we're performing really well and the best part about it is watching film last night and talking to the girls during practice and stuff. There's still a ton of potential and a ton of room for growth, very quickly.
Aaron: Great. Going back to the strength and conditioning piece, you work with obviously different sports here at Bates, not all the sports, but a variety of the sports. How do you approach that? Do you make custom plans for each sport, or is there kind of one over-arching theory or method you use?
Mike: So, it's a little bit of both. There is an over arching-theory, method, philosophy that I utilize, which is very much quality over quantity and movement oriented stuff in the weight room, which seems to be in the realm of reducing a lot of injuries, which is obviously the primary goal. But, in regards of how I separate it from team to team, I like to meet with the coaches as much as I can and get their input as to what they feel is necessary for their athletes because they have more hands-on time with their athletes than I do and then I have a generic program that I alter and tweak and make suggestions on to then give out to the athletes and meet with the athletes as needed. Division III and NESCAC rules do make it a little bit challenging, because we are really hands-off in the off-season, unless they have specific questions or safety concerns or what not. So, we utilize our P.E. classes very well, I think to do agility work or weight room work.
Mike: It's different from fall to winter semester but there was probably six or so (classes) last semester and there's four or five in the winter semester and we may add ... it's how we get time with our athletes. As long as it's open to every student on campus, which we always have other students come. Then we're safe. We're good.
Aaron: Excellent. How do you work with the training staff or are they totally separate in terms of the trainers and what they do?
Mike: No. So, we're in the same unit. We just have constant communication about how the athletes are doing, right? So an athlete gets hurt, or feels something off, typical stuff. Might be a hamstring or a groin thing, right? From running or jumping, they'll go to the athletic trainers and get evaluated and our athletic training staff is really progressive and they're doing a lot of awesome work. So, you walk down the hallway and the athletes are out and they're doing some rehab exercises and then they can come back to me for our training stuff, right? The good thing is, last summer, I went back and I got my license as a massage therapist. So, I can do a little bit of extra work, if needed, and communicate with the athletic training staff on that type of stuff.
Aaron: Great. When you come to evaluating what you're doing, what do you term as success in terms of working with individual athletes or teams?
Mike: Well, the biggest determinant of success, in my opinion is, are we less injured, right? So, ultimately you can be as strong as an ox in the weight room or the fastest person on campus but if you can't actually get to practice and play in the games because you're on the sideline, that doesn't do anybody any good. So, the first job was to try and really figure out how to reduce the acute injuries, like knee injuries or stuff like that. Which, I think we've done a really good job of over the last five, six years, whatever it's been. Then after that, there's always the nagging hamstring, ankle type, shoulder type stuff that ... those tend to be the harder ones to try and mitigate as best as possible because they're just usually more chronic than acute which means they just build up over time.
Aaron: Did Bates have anything, to your knowledge, in terms of strength and conditioning programs established before you got here or is this kind of new?
Mike: I think it's mostly new. They didn't have anyone really dedicated just solely as strength and conditioning coach. So, football always used one of their assistants, traditionally, and then Jay and Al have always had one of their assistants doing theirs. So, that's still the case and I think, primarily before I was here, if a team wanted a specific program, the coach would either go find the program, him or herself, and say here you go or one of the football coaches or whoever, they would reach out for some help.
Aaron: What are some feedback maybe you've gotten from the athletes?
Mike: We look at speed testing and strength testing and our kind of markers of athletic performance and I like to communicate. A lot of the teams have their leadership groups. Obviously we have captains. So, I'll communicate with the captains. Let's say men's lacrosse, as an example, because I work really closely with them. Their captains keep in close touch and in the beginning of the year I meet with them and ask what they feel they need and obviously I'll talk to Peter but, "How is the team? Do you think we're fast? How do we compare as far as speed and agility to the rest of the teams we compete against?" I know that they're a strong team. So, now it's tweaking programs to up their level of speed and agility and quickness and all of that type of stuff. So, it's a love-hate because at 6:30 in the morning at a P.E. class, they're not excited to be there but, I think they see the results and they understand what the end goal is.
Aaron: Alright. Mike Seltzer. Thanks so much.
Mike: Thank you.
Aaron: Next time, on the Bates Bobcast, we’ll recap how the basketball teams do this week, the men are home Thursday against Bowdoin and Saturday against Colby. Plus, we’ll look back on the swimming and diving teams’ meet with Dartmouth. All that and more, next time, on the Bates Bobcast!