It's the first Bates Bobcast of 2019! On this episode, we preview the alpine and Nordic skiing seasons. And we look forward to indoor track and field. Plus, our Bobcats of the Week come from the hardwood. All that and more, on the Bates Bobcast.
Interviews this episode:
- 1:19 -- Erika Lamere '19, Women's Basketball
- 3:10 -- Meghan Graff '22, Women's Basketball (Female Bobcat of the Week)
- 9:50 -- Jeff Spellman '20, Men's Basketball (Male Bobcat of the Week)
- 16:42 -- Michael Cooper '20 and Griffin Mueller '21, Alpine Skiing
- 28:50 -- Samantha Pierce '19 and Carter Ros '21, Nordic Skiing
- 36:11 -- Zack Campbell '19 and Andrea Russo '19, Indoor Track and Field
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 are previewing the skiing and indoor track and field seasons. Plus, our Bobcats of the Week come from the basketball teams, the women and men both picked up big NESCAC wins Saturday against Colby. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast!
Aaron: Since our most recent episode of the Bobcast, the basketball teams have played a combined total of eight games. The men dropped a pair of games at the Tournament of Heroes in Staten Island while the women split a pair of contests at Springfield College’s Naismith Classic. The women hosted No. 1 nationally ranked Bowdoin on Friday and gave the undefeated Polar Bears one of their bigger challenges of the season, holding Bowdoin to a season-low 65 points. Although they fell to the Polar Bears, the women earned their first conference win of the season the following afternoon against Colby. Down by eight through three quarters, the Bobcats rallied and outscored Colby 19-4 in the fourth quarter to prevail 54-47.
Aaron: After the game we caught up with senior captain Erika Lamere.
Aaron: Tell me about offensive rebound you got late in that game, right? I think it was a shot by McVeigh that went off the rim, and you surged in for the rebound. Seems like you've been getting a lot of those. What's happening for you on offense?
Erika: On offense, it was a really close game at the end, and we knew we just had to do whatever we had to do to win. And I knew that I was gonna crash every board. If it wasn't going in, I was getting it. So that, was my mindset there.
Aaron: You're a senior captain. You're, I think, the lone senior on the team, right? What's that dynamic like with all these first-years coming in, and you being the leader out there on the court?
Erika: It's been really fun. I give so much credit to all of my underclassmen, all my freshman. They've been stepping up in such huge ways. It's been fun to lead them a little bit. Kinda show 'em what it takes to play with heart, what it takes to compete in this league. And we're there now, and I'm just so excited for the rest of this season.
Aaron: I know you've battled injuries throughout your career. What's it mean for you to be starting and playing a key role in these kinda games like this, as a senior?
Erika: It means the world to me. I'm ecstatic. That's all I got. I don't know. (laughs)
Aaron: Well, in this game, Colby ends the third quarter on a big run, right?
Erika: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Aaron; What's the mentality going into the fourth quarter? 'Cause you had outplayed 'em for most of that third, and they ended on that run like that, and then you dominated the fourth.
Erika: Right. Coach just kept telling us, you know, every game we go into, prepare that victory speech. And that's what she said to us at the end of the third. We were down by a little, but she was like, "Keep preparing that victory speech. We're gonna get this." And everyone believed in it, and we got it done.
Aaron: Erika Lamere, thanks so much.
Erika: Thank you.
Aaron: First-year Meghan Graff matched her career-high with 17 points in Bates’ win on New Years Day over Newbury. She followed that up by scoring 12 points against Bowdoin on Friday. Then she matched her career-high again with 17 points in the Bobcats’ win over Colby. Seven of those 17 points came in the fourth quarter. And Meghan Graff is our Female Bobcat of the Week!
Aaron: You'd already played Bowdoin earlier in the year at their place. And they came in on Friday, and you held them to their season low in points. Obviously, you wanna win the game, but how much of a confidence boost in that performance set up for the next day?
Meghan: I think it just showed, as a team, the ability and potential we have just to play a good, solid basketball game. Throughout the season, we focused a lot on just playing a full basketball game, not just playing a half, or only a quarter, because we were struggling with that, obviously. And we struggled with that against Bowdoin the first time we played them. So just being able to put together a full game really allowed us to just see the potential we have as a team, and how good we can be, and that translated into the Colby game as well.
Aaron: What was it like playing against your former high school teammate there, Maddie Hasson?
Meghan: It was definitely ... I mean, I played against her the first time we played 'em.
Meghan: But it was different because a lot of the things we went over about what her tendencies were, I recognized that from high school, and she scores a lot of points. And in high school, I was the one passing her the ball, so it's just a little bit different, but I mean, you always say when you cross the lines, there's really no friends during basketball games, or even during practices or anything. So, we're both really competitive people, and basketball players, so I think we were in the zone. Our mindset was focused on just playing basketball, and not really the friends aspect. But it's a really nice thing, to be able to share, and to remember playing against one of your good friends and old teammates.
Aaron: Was there any extra talking going on, 'cause you're friends? Or no?
Meghan: No. I think we're both just so competitive, so both of us just wanna win so badly. I think we're pretty similar basketball players when it comes to having the same mindset during games and stuff. So, we did talk during the game. Maybe I said a few things like, "That was a foul." Yeah, no, we talk after the game, but usually during the game, it's strictly basketball. Yeah.
Aaron: And then, the Colby game. I mean, wow. First of all, you caught up in the third quarter, but then they got those eight points at the end. You're down by eight, going into the fourth quarter. What was going through your mind heading into the fourth there?
Meghan: Before the game, we talked about it and we said, "We played a great game against Bowdoin, but we can't just be satisfied with that. We have to understand that this is still gonna be a hard game to win. We're gonna have to work hard. Nothing's gonna come easily." And so, we kinda struggled during the first half. And during half time, we just said, "Losing isn't an option. It's only winning." And before that game, we had this quote. We always have quotes and stuff. And one of it was always, "Play to have a victory speech," and that was just our mindset. We were walking out of the gym with a win. And that, was in everyone's head. It wasn't an option to lose, and we all just wanted to win so badly.
Aaron: Tell us about your senior captain, Erika Lamere. I understand she gives some good speeches.
Meghan: Oh, I can't even begin to start with how great her speeches are. She's just obviously the one lone senior on the team. She takes on a pretty big leadership role, especially just 'cause we're such a young team, too. It's not even like one senior, a bunch of juniors. It's one senior, two juniors. And one of 'em's hurt right now. But she just takes on the role. She embraces it, and she just steps up when she needs to. I mean, we've been struggling, obviously. The past few games, with just winning. And like I said, playing a full game. And she just is so ... she tells us to play with heart. And everything she says, she demonstrates, too. It's not like she just says it, and she doesn't do it, either. What she says, she does, too. And that supports. And I think it just allows the team to buy into what she's saying, too, just because she's such a hardworking basketball player, and a great leader on the team. She definitely has such an impact.
Aaron: So that fourth quarter, you outscored Colby 19 to 4. What was really clicking? I mean, you hit some threes, you drove for the hoop, got an "and 1". It seems like everything that could've gone right, did.
Meghan: Yeah, I just think it was this ... in our head, it just wasn't an option to lose. It was only winning, and there wasn't any other way we were gonna go down. And I think we all just wanted it so badly. The momentum was going the way our shots were falling, and that made us just wanna work harder, and harder. Score more, and not back down at all. And I mean, it was alumni weekend, so all the alums were there. And we always talk about alumni magic. And it was there. The atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was so pumped up, and we were just so focused in on the game, and we wanted to win so badly.
Aaron: We're talking on Tuesday. Today's game has been postponed. So, you do have, obviously, some NESCAC games coming up on the weekend. A lot of road games coming up. What's coach Montgomery said about that?
Meghan: We had a great weekend. We played well. I mean, we lost to Bowdoin, but we beat Colby, and we played two really good, solid games. But she's always focused on the next game, like, "Great, we beat Colby, but so what? We have two other big games coming up. That's old news now. We have better things to focus on." And it's just like we achieve one thing, okay, we have another goal set for us. And we're now focused on that. The weekend's over with, and so we're just focused on the next thing.
Aaron: There you go. Meghan Graff. Female Bobcat of the week. Thanks so much.
Meghan: Thank you.
Aaron: The men’s basketball team fell at Bowdoin on Friday before earning its first conference win of the year Saturday by defeating Colby 81-71. The Mules entered the contest at 9-2 on the year but Bates used a big first half to go up by 11 and the Bobcats held on from there. Junior Jeff Spellman poured in 15 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds in the win. Spellman averaged 14.3 points per game over the break and he leads the Bobcats in scoring on the season. And Jeff Spellman is our Male Bobcat of the Week!
Aaron: First two NESCAC games of the year this weekend. A loss at Bowdoin, and then a complete turnaround and a win at Colby. What changed?
Jeff: I mean, it's tough to pinpoint exactly what changed. I mean, I think it's just a testament to our attitude as a team. We've had a really tough season up to this point. But we were able to stick through it, and just listen to our coaches and really believe in each other. I think our first game at Bowdoin, we caught a guy in a really tough night, a career night for him. Jack Simonds. I think look up and he has almost 30 points in the first half. And we typically don't match up very well against a team like Bowdoin. They're bigger and like the slow pace, and that's not what we do. We're trying to speed up. But it's tough to say exactly what changed, but I know in Colby our attitude was, we would've thought that we won the game before. There was no ... no one gave up. And that's really what I saw.
Aaron: Sure, and we saw Colby earlier this year, at Alumni Gym. They like to shoot a lot of threes. How do you approach that defensively?
Jeff: We try to make all their threes contested. We try to run them off the line. We wanna get them into taking tough twos. Obviously, you don't wanna give up lay-ups at the rim. But we try to mix up our defensive looks. We mixed in a 1-3-1 zone at the beginning of the game. We opened the game up with I think two steals to start the game, so that obviously changed the course of the entire game, but yeah, we try to run them off the three point line, and get them into contested twos.
Aaron: And what was the feeling like on the bus, after the game? Was it relief? Was it like, "Let's go. Let's play again."
Jeff: Yeah, we talked about this as we went on the first half of our season. There's really two parts of our season. We've got the first section, which is mostly made up of non-league games, which if you do well enough, you potentially get an at large big. But at this point, that's not gonna happen. So we know that we need to perform at a very high level in NESCAC play. So, I think there's obviously a sense of relief there. If you split most NESCAC weekends, go one win and one loss, then you leave yourself in a pretty good position to get a 25th game, and that's been our goal. So, we were happy, obviously.
Aaron: Terrific. And then, Tom Coyne back in the line-up. He was hurt for most of the non-conference. What was it like to have a fellow guard like him, who can score?
Jeff: Oh man, it's great. He provides such an offensive relief for us. He stretches the floor so well. The defense has to worry about him. You can't leave him. You have to have a body on him, because if he gets an inch of space, it's going up. And more than likely, it's going in.
Aaron: For sure. And then, for you, you got eight rebounds, also, against Colby. You're not that tall, how you gettin' all those rebounds?
Jeff: I think I have the athletic ability to get rebounds, and I've been really focusing on that this year. I think the last few games I strayed away from it. It seems more like a conscious choice for me, if I can just remind myself, every possession. Because in the past, I've played in some systems where I'm just running. As soon as the shot goes up, I'm going out, getting to a wing or a corner. But now, I've just gotta remind myself to go back, and I'll bring the ball up a lot so we can just start off. And it's a lot easier if I'm the one to go get the rebound.
Aaron: Sure, yeah. A lot of the offense obviously runs through you. What's it like to have everything ... do you feel pressure? Do you embrace that?
Jeff: Yeah. I don't feel pressure at all. It's just, whatever the team needs, I'm just gonna be willing to do it. And I wouldn't say that the offense runs through me. We just, whatever the best look is for us, that's what we're gonna get.
Aaron: Well, as the guy who brings it up, though, what do you see your role as, in terms of starting, the possession. Are you working with Furbush on the plays? How's that dynamic work?
Jeff: Yeah, I mean we usually have a few ... It's kinda like football in the sense that our first few calls are gonna be set. It's an unpredictable game, so it's not necessarily set, but we try to have an outline of what we're gonna do. And like I said before, we're a team that really wants to push pace and tempo, so if I can go back and get that rebound, we're just gonna go right into our fast break, and there's nothing that's gonna be said about it. We're just gonna play, and get comfortable with each other if that's starting to happen.
Aaron: Terrific. So, off the court, I interviewed Kody Greenhalgh a few weeks ago, and he mentioned that you and him and teamed up on some movies, some films. He says you're really good with a camera. How did that develop?
Jeff: Obviously I didn't know Kody that first year. He was playing football, and then he reached out to me, and said he wanted to play basketball, and I found out that he was a pretty damn good player. He's a great kid off the court, too. We've become really close. We started ... he's a Rhetoric major, I myself, Studio Art major, and I'm really interested in film. Obviously he is as well, and we started trying to figure out what classes we could take together, and maybe work together, and that's what we've done. We've made some short videos. Short films that we're really proud of, actually.
Aaron: Terrific. Studio Art. What's that major like?
Jeff: It's really nice for me. There's two sections of Art and Visual Culture. You can do the Art History or Studio Art. So obviously, I take majority Studio Art courses, but I mainly focus in photography and film, and those have just been really two big interests of mine for a while now.
Aaron: Do you also take Art History?
Jeff: Yeah, I do have to take some Art History courses, and those have actually been really interesting. I've found them way more interesting than I thought I would've.
Aaron: I gotta tell you something. I took Art History twice in college, and I dropped the class both times. Could not handle it. What's the key to succeeding in those classes?
Jeff: I mean, especially at Bates, it's such a broad spectrum of the courses you can take in Art History, you've really gotta find something that you're gonna be interested in. I've been in some that I wasn't as interested in, but then there's some that I've found they just really struck home with me.
Aaron: Now back to the court. You mentioned Kody Greenhalgh reached out to you, initially. So you were the one to bring him onto the team a little bit?
Jeff: Oh yeah. I mean, I had actually known about him when he was in high school, and then I found out that he was coming to Bates, when I was coming my freshman year. And I was like, "Is this kid playing basketball?" I wasn't even sure, but then I found out pretty quickly that he was just a really good football player. So, it was upsetting to find that out. I mean, selfishly, of course.
Jeff: But yeah, no, then he just, I think, our freshman year, spring, he just showed up to one the pick up games we have, and had it running from there.
Aaron: Yeah, so he had, I believe, a bunch of points, also, against Colby. What's it like working with him on the court?
Jeff: I mean, he's great. He's another guy who can really shoot the ball. He's super athletic. He gets out, he slashes. He's really a complete player, in my eyes. It just always helps when you can have another guy who can shoot, and really just be a total offensive threat.
Aaron: Now, I believe this year is a home-heavy schedule for you guys, right? In NESCAC play. What's that mean to you? 'Cause obviously, you have a nice home court advantage at Alumni.
Jeff: Yeah, it's huge. I mean obviously, the new renovations that went on inside Alumni. It's been great to play there so far, and I'm excited to get some NESCAC games, finally, at home. With the crowd, I think it's gonna be great. I think it's really gonna provide our guys, and our team with the support that we need.
Aaron: Perfect. Jeff Spellman. Male Bobcat of the week. Thanks so much.
Jeff: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Aaron: The alpine and Nordic skiing teams are loving the snow, their seasons get underway this weekend at the St. Lawrence Carnival. To preview the alpine skiing season, we talked to captains Griffin Mueller and Michael Cooper.
Aaron: Well, Michael, we'll start with you. First of all, welcome back. I know last year you missed it, due to an injury. You're obviously still in school and everything, but so coming back from an injury, what's that process been like?
Michael: It started off super slow. I mean, I had back surgery, and the first three months after, it was just like, do nothing. The surgeon was very adamant about me doing nothing, just 'cause at 20 years old, getting back surgery was not an ideal situation, first of all. But getting back, very slow, like getting physical therapy and everything. And slowly building up to getting back most of my strength, and I'll be able to do physical testing at the end. And it was pretty much at where I was last year, at this time, so really happy that it's gone successfully. The PT has been working and stuff. And so, getting back on the snow was awesome as well. Didn't really miss a beat, so pretty excited to get back out into the circuit this year.
Aaron: Excellent. Griffin, you obviously competed last year. Went to NCAAs. But the previous year, you missed 'cause of an injury. So what was your process like, coming back?
Griffin: Coming back, it was hard, but it was really helpful to get to cheer on my teammates from the sideline the whole year, and just keep working at it slowly, until it all paid off last year.
Aaron: And last year, NCAAs, what was the experience like?
Griffin: It was amazing. I was so happy just to get to be there, and compete with those girls. I probably had never been happier.
Aaron: And what did you learn from the experience, maybe even applied to this season? 'Cause last year was your first year of collegiate skiing.
Griffin: What I learned last year, was just to be myself, and keep working at it, slowly but surely. And just go out there every day, and do the same things I do, and eventually, it all paid off.
Aaron: Michael, let's talk about the men's team a little bit. Obviously, you being a senior captain, but you've got some pretty fast teammates, right? I mean, Taggert Mueller's back. Griffin's brother. We've got Calvin Wilson, Joe Gillis, Max Schneider, and Arie van Vuuren, a first-year, pushing the envelope, I hear.
Michael: Yeah, so I'm incredibly excited, just with how the men's team is shaping up this year. So, I missed all of last semester, so I wasn't around a lot. I mean, I obviously watched the results and everything on live timing. But this is obviously the first time getting back onto snow, watching them all ski in person. And I was blown away, to be completely honest. I mean, everyone is skiing, especially in slalom right now, the men's team is incredibly strong. I mean, we've got Joe Gillis, who is skiing really fast in slalom. One of our first year's, Arie van Vuuren, very fast in both slalom and GS. He's, I think, really pushing the team, so I'm excited to see how that plays out for the rest of the year. Of course, Max and Calvin, too, are skiing incredibly fast. And so, it's really pushing me, too. I mean, I'm getting back into the skiing and stuff, what-not, after injury, and it's definitely been, I think, really good for me, having definitely a younger team pushing how I can do this year. And so, I'm really excited about how they're all gonna perform this year. And obviously, Taggert as well.
Aaron: Right, for sure. And then, well, we're previewing the season now. We're previewing really, the carnival season. You guys have lots of races before that. And I understand that there are a lot of podium finishes. What's that season like? Not the pre-season, per se, but the season before the carnival season?
Michael: It's definitely pretty intense, 'cause it starts late in the fall. Like, right around when we're finishing up finals, and finishing up final projects whenever. So, our time on snow is pretty sporadic, and we try to just fit it in anywhere. So, we're pretty tired at that point. But everyone is just so excited to be on snow, getting into the season. And so, all of the races that we do beforehand, get us geared up for what the carnival season would be. But for the most part, we're just so excited to be back on snow that we don't care that we're getting less and less hours of sleep. But everyone did really well in the early season races on the men's side, and the women's side, actually. We had a lot of podium finishes across the board. So it was good to see that, that early, coming into the carnival season, especially with that much momentum. I know Micaela's super excited about it. I'm super excited. I know Griffin's super excited as well. And so, I honestly think it's gonna shape up to be a pretty good carnival season for our team.
Aaron: Great. And then, Griffin, you took the fall off and went all over the world, I understand. Tell us about it.
Griffin: Yeah, so I, because I'm doing a fifth year, I got the opportunity to travel, and train, and coach a little bit. So it was super amazing. I was totally chasing snow, and got to go to some really beautiful places. Started up in Canada. Made my way down to New Zealand and Chili, and of course, back home, in Colorado. So, I'm feeling so excited to be back with my teammates, mostly, and have them to push me, and see where it takes us.
Aaron: Well yeah, speaking of your teammates, it's certainly a young team, isn't it. You've got a sophomore in Hannah West, a couple of first-years who are really standing out. Tell us about them, and how they're pushing you.
Griffin: Yeah, we are really young, which is really exciting. The girls coming up, we're so excited about because last year, I had Hannah to thank for making me faster. And this year, with Daphne, and Tess, and Cassidy, we're just so excited that we get to move forward together. And being so young, we have so much room for improvement, and so much time. I mean, time is fleeting, but it's gonna be really great to see those girls move up the ranks.
Aaron: Terrific. And on the men's team, you have an Olympian coming back, Dinos, representing Cyprus last year. What's he told you about his Olympic experience?
Michael: So, Dinos and I are actually roommates this year, so we've been able to talk a lot about it, and what-not. But I know that he just talked a lot about being in the presence of all of these amazing, world class athletes that we look up to our whole life. And just that experience of being able to have them as peers, I think was something that definitely helped him. But it's just one thing, we didn't talk about it too much. It was just something he did, he had that experience. And super excited that he had that to bring back and share that all with the younger guys on the team and everything. But yeah, no, it's really exciting to have him back. So, it should be a good season with him as well.
Aaron: It's challenging there, 'cause I know he was one of the last people to go down the hill, right? Kinda? And I understand in alpine skiing, if you don't have an advantageous number, the slope's pretty torn up. Is that fair to say?
Michael: Yeah, especially with the conditions this year, too. I know that he was talking about the training days beforehand, for the slalom, especially, the conditions were all over the place. They didn't know if they were gonna have ample snow. If it was gonna be ice or what-not, on the actual race day. But I guess on the race day it shaped up. But when you're running back of the pack, especially with some of the strongest athletes on the circuit, the course is just entirely chewed up. So, I think at that point, definitely more of an experience.
Aaron: Season starting this weekend. St. Lawrence Carnival. Are all the carnivals pretty similar? Or are there some significant differences?
Griffin: Well, they're all similar in who's there, and what we're doing. They're all in different places. This will be my first time at Whiteface. And then, I feel like there's a little different vibes to all of them. But other than that, we're just out there to go fast.
Aaron: Are some of the hills more challenging than others?
Michael: Yeah, so actually it's super cool that we get to be at the Whiteface, or in Lake Placid. I mean, it was one of the hosts of the Winter Olympic games years ago, so it's fun to be on that Olympic hill. Definitely pretty challenging GS hill. It's a little bit longer, so it's running over a minute, so definitely pretty tired at the end of that. Pretty similar to the UVM hill. Both super long GSs. We're going to UNH again this year. It's a new slalom hill that they've got, and that's a pretty intense slalom. Then we got, rounding out the season with the Bates Carnival, so super excited about that. So that's obviously home field advantage for us, 'cause we're on that every single day.
Griffin: But yeah, all the hills, especially this year, are actually pretty challenging, so it should be a super good, really good year just for skiing in general. We get to be on a lot of really exciting hills, and all the course sets are always pretty interesting. So, it should be good.
Aaron: Yeah. Well, both of you are captains. What's the experience like being a captain? What are some of your extra responsibilities, if any?
Griffin: Really, we all captain each other, but I would say just making sure communication is really clear, and the ski room is clean, is up there. I didn't have the opportunity to be here this fall, so dry land and stuff was kinda on Michael. But it's definitely fun to get to try to lead our young team.
Aaron: Yeah, you were captain last year, too, but you obviously got injured, so what's it like, the captain experience for you?
Michael: This year has been just being more, like Griffin said, just to second that, of we all try to be leaders for one another. 'Cause it gets kind of interesting with a dynamic where it's like, you have one really powerful individual, or an athlete that's ... then everyone ends up being your peer. So, what we really try to do is everyone's responsible for one another, and for themselves, so it creates more of a team dynamic, is something we're looking forward to. Us being named the captains, it's more of we are a resource that any of the other members of the team can come to with any sort of questions, whether they be academic, athletic, and then also, running optional captain's practices throughout the fall, is probably some of the biggest stuff. But yeah, just being someone that the rest of the team feels comfortable coming up to is probably our biggest role.
Aaron: Before there's snow, what's the training process like? What are you doing?
Michael: So, we're doing a lot of agility workouts. Lots of time in the gym. We're doing a lot of leg strength, core. Core's super important for skiing. And the men's team sure has been doing a lot of upper body, just for arm stuff. But-
Griffin: Look good, feel good.
Michael: Exactly. Right. So, no, that's been a pretty funny thing that we've been focusing on a little bit. But yeah, no, it's obviously shorter end cardio. So if we're going on a run, it's gonna be no more than like, four miles or so. Really trying to amp up the volume in the gym, and for agility. We'll run circuits, like spring workouts and what-not.
Aaron: Terrific. Griffin, has the team set any goals? Has Coach Holland set any goals for you?
Griffin: We have set goals as individuals, and as a team. We're hoping for the women to break into that top five as a team a few times this year, and see where that takes us. But other than that, we have running goals for the rest of the team. And mostly just improving, and being there for each other throughout the season.
Aaron: Great. On the men's side, besides the upper body part, any other goals?
Michael: Well, no, yeah. That's definitely more of a fun thing. No, so I guess in the past, we've had a lot of struggles with finishing. Like, getting six finishers, because the way it's ranked is that the top three finishers will get points for the team. We have struggled with getting even three finishers in the past. But last year, I know we had ... we started off with the Colby Carnival, with everyone finishing. I was there watching, so it was fantastic to see that. Really boosted everyone's confidence. And I think rolling into this season, we're gonna try to continue that. That's gonna be one of our biggest goals. And then, honestly, getting more top 30s is probably the biggest goal for our team, performance-wise.
Aaron: There you have it. Griffin Mueller, Michael Cooper. Thanks so much.
Michael: Thank you so much for having us.
Griffin: Thank you.
Aaron: And to preview the Nordic skiing season, we sat down with two team captains: Samantha Pierce and Carter Ros.
Aaron: Samantha, we'll start with you. You're a senior. You were a captain last year as well. What's your career been like at Bates so far, from a Nordic skiing perspective? And what does it mean to you to be a captain once again, for the squad?
Samantha: It's been a really fun past three years, going on the fourth. And this year, we have a bigger team than last year, which is nice. We have a full team. And everybody is looking fast, and excited for the racing season to start, and to get a little more snow on the ground.
Aaron: Sure, so I know Nordic skiing, when there's not a lot of snow on the ground, how do you go about training? How do you adjust to that? 'Cause we've had some snow, but not a ton, necessarily.
Samantha: Yeah, we do a lot of dry land training, so running, and we have these things called SkiErgs, where you basically just pull two things down for a while. And it's pretty dull, but-
Aaron: It gets the job done.
Samantha: Yep. And spinning, and biking, and lifting, and things like that.
Aaron: Perfect. Well, Carter, the men's team is young. Sophomores and first-years, basically. And you were named the captain. So what does that mean to you, to be the captain of the team, as a sophomore?
Carter: Yeah, it's obviously a huge honor, and a big responsibility. We have a history of really great captains, including Sam, so there's big shoes to fill. But I'm really excited for the opportunity. And it's nice being chosen, but it wasn't the big thing for me. I just wanna see the team do well, and wanna see my teammates succeed, and do well for myself, and being captain is just another part of that.
Aaron: Sam, tell us how you first got into Nordic skiing.
Samantha: So, in elementary school, my gym class was actually just a skiing class in the winter, so we'd just go out, and everybody would strap on their short little skis, and ski in the backwoods behind our school. So that, got me excited about it. And I joined the team in middle school and high school, and loved it.
Aaron: And what led you to Bates?
Samantha: I really liked ... I knew I wanted to ski in college, so that narrows the field down to the northeast and the west. And I really liked the vibe of Bates. And Becky, our coach, was just really great in the recruiting process. And she's been a great coach for me. And I really like that.
Aaron: Same question for you, how'd you first get into Nordic skiing, and what led you to Bates?
Carter: Yeah, I started Nordic skiing in first grade. It was basically just a glorified play date at that point. Just rolling around in the snow with your friends. But I stuck with it all throughout middle school and high school. And similar to Sam, I knew I wanted to ski in college, and started the search. And ended up coming to Bates, sight unseen. But it's hands down, the best decision I've ever made, and Becky's amazing, and I'm super happy here.
Aaron: So, sight unseen, what drew you to here, I guess?
Carter: I had a previous teammate, Leo Lukens, who was on the team, and he was texting me, and he was like, "Hey man, have you ever thought about coming to Bates?" And I was like, "Well, I don't know much about it, but I guess I'm thinking about it now." And then, just started a dialogue with Becky over email, and the rest all kinda fell into place.
Aaron: One question I'm always interested about when it comes to skiing, whether it be alpine or Nordic, you're off campus a lot, and by off campus, I mean pretty far off campus. And so, how do you balance that with the academic rigors of the school like Bates?
Samantha: It's tricky, because our races happen Friday, Saturday, and so we leave on Thursday afternoon-ish. So, we just try, and have really good communication with professors about telling them well beforehand when we're missing classes, and how to do the makeup work and get notes, and just developing a good relationship early on is really helpful.
Aaron: Similar process for you?
Carter: Yeah, I would say another key aspect to getting the work done is that we're all in the same position. Everybody's got class, and everybody has their academic responsibilities, so when you see your teammates doing their work, and getting it done, you're like, "All right, I need to do it, too," and we all kind of hold each other accountable, 'cause you don't want anybody to not be able to race because of grades or something like that.
Aaron: For sure. And Sam, you're one of the captains, Kaelyn Woods being the other. Tell us about Kaelyn, and obviously, the year she had last year was spectacular, right?
Samantha: Yeah. She did so well. And we're so excited to, hopefully, see her do that again this year. She's really been a great leader on the team, along with Carter. Yeah, she's got a long legacy of Bates skiing, and so it's really fun to watch that happen.
Aaron: And then, both of you being captains, how do you work together to lead the team?
Samantha: I think we have a good relationship, and we are able to split the duties, half and half. And our leadership styles are a little different, so that's kind of nice. So, when ... I don't know. We need somebody to really fire us up by having a great result, that's Kaelyn, and she always does that really well.
Aaron: Terrific. And then obviously, her mom's the head coach, Becky Woods. What's Becky like as a head coach?
Carter: Oh, Becky's great. She's awesome. I can't say enough good things about Becky. She's nice to you when she needs to be, but she also can lay down the law, and holds us accountable. And at the end of the day, that's what's most important. She really seems like she has a knack for getting the most out of all of her athletes. And Becky's great at figuring out what each person needs individually, in order to help them succeed. Yeah. But Becky's great. I love Becky.
Aaron: Terrific. Feeling the same for you?
Aaron: And then, goals this year. What goals have you set, personally, and for the team?
Samantha: I think I just wanna continue to improve over my previous years. I don't really have any set place goals, necessarily, because the field's always changing. But yeah, I would like to see the team ... we were placing around 8th or 7th last year, and it'd be great to see us move up this year.
Aaron: How about on your side?
Carter: Yeah, I would echo what Sam said. The big thing for us, is we always like to see improvement year-to-year, but also as the year goes on. So for me, I just wanna continue building on last year, and just keep improving throughout the season, and hopefully you can lay down some good results.
Aaron: All right. St. Lawrence Carnival this weekend. Sam and Carter, thanks so much.
Carter: Thanks for having us.
Samantha: Thank you.
Aaron: While the skiing teams are outdoors, the track and field teams get their indoor season underway this Saturday at MIT. Two of their captains: Zack Campbell and Andrea Russo, joined the Bobcast to look ahead to what should be an exciting year.
Aaron: Well Zack, we'll start with you. As a senior, you're a thrower, what did it mean to you to be named as one of the captains for the men's team?
Zack: Yeah, it's pretty exciting. There's quite a legacy being left behind. A lot of great throwers that I've been in contact with, so to be one of those guys, as a captain, leading the team, and being that example, it means a lot to me. And I'm just trying to live up to those names that I've been really used to hearing and seeing.
Aaron: And then, Drea, you play softball in the spring, but what does it mean to you, for indoor season, to be a captain your senior year?
Andrea: Yeah, it means a lot to me, and especially because we have such a long pre-season, too, during the fall. And just to be part of the developmental aspect of all of the freshmen, especially. We have a really talented crew this year. And just being there for as long as possible until I have to just switch over during the spring, it does mean a lot to me, and just the relationships I've developed with other runners in the past are truly, truly meaningful.
Aaron: What do you tell youngsters, the first-years, about what it takes to succeed at Bates track and field?
Andrea: Dedication and definitely mental strength and toughness. Some of the workouts that we're put through make you not feel good in the end, but it's worth it, 'cause when you see your times coming out on Saturday after that first meet, you know you've worked hard, and it's all paid off.
Aaron: Zack, we talked off the air, some younger guys coming in throwing as well, tell us about them.
Zack: Yeah, so we have a guy I'm really excited about, John Everett, coming to us from near Boston area. He's coming from a school that we've had a lot of success from. You know, Sean Enos went there. Rich McNeil, a lot of those guys coming up, so really excited about him. He showed a lot of potential. And then, we have another kid I'm really excited about, Alex Gailey, who's coming from California. Never thrown before, but he just has the body for it. He's a pure natural just watching him. So it's really exciting. Very talented group, the younger guys.
Aaron: I'll ask the same question I asked Drea, what do you tell the youngsters?
Zack: It's a lot of patience. Because you come out of high school, and maybe you were the guy at your school throwing 50 feet, but then the shot gets bigger, and so do your competitors, and so it's definitely gonna hit you at first. I remember my first week, I was like, "I'm not cut out for this at all," but you gotta really keep grinding, keep hitting the gym, and eventually you'll be one of those big guys that everyone's like, "Whoa, I can't compete with him," you know?
Aaron: And as a senior, what are some of the goals you've set for yourself?
Zack: Goals, I mean, I think just trying to be a great leader for the guys, and be an example. Coach always says that I'm not the biggest person ever. I'm under six feet, so I've gotta work that much harder for everybody, and try to give that exact same example to everybody else. Try, and do everything properly, the right way, and work hard for it, and then the results will come. So now, it's time for me to chase my results. Try, and get to those bigger meets that maybe I haven't been able to get to in the past.
Aaron: Drea, any goals that you've set for yourself this year?
Andrea: Pretty much just be better than myself last year. Just continue to improve on my own times, and then also just to be a good support system for everyone else on the team. Yes, that comes with the role as a captain, but I do take that to heart, and I do see that as even a more important role than bettering my own self, because in the end, if the team is all on the same page, has all the same goal in making sure that everyone feels comfortable and confident, we, as a team, are gonna succeed.
Aaron: And then, obviously you are both captains, but there are other captains as well, so tell us about them.
Andrea: So, for the women, Ayden and Sarah Rothmann, who are captains for cross country, joined us for indoor. And then, with indoor, we also have Sarah Shoulta, who is hurdles and sprints. And then, Katie Hughes, who is also a thrower. She was a captain last year. So she's the one that's been helping us organize, 'cause we're a pretty big crew, in terms of there being five captains. But if you see how big the team is, too, you kinda need all of us. But yeah, no, so it's been a really good dynamic working with them, and they're all very, very talented. I'm just honored to be running with them, but then also being a leader with them as well.
Aaron: Zack, tell us about the other men's captains.
Zack: Yeah, so we have Brendan Donahue. He was our only junior captain. He's a mult-athlete for us. He's a great guy, working with everybody, because he does so many different events, so he really has his hands in all the different pots. We have Mike Somma, who's running the mid-distance for us. Great guy. Really friendly with everybody as well, so everyone really likes talking to him, and looking up to him. And we have Mark Fusco, who is coming from the cross country team, working with distance. And he's always been the guy for us in distance. And when your spider's on the track, everyone's very excited to see him go, and the faces he makes, and all the energy he puts out there, so it's really great to have him be that guy with us, you know?
Aaron: So this fall, obviously, there are other cross country runners. Neither of you run cross country, though. And so, what were you doing this fall to prepare for the indoor season?
ZacK: Yeah, so we had our fall track class, which was really exciting. We met about three times a week, usually, and it was a great time to work on just general fitness, so we did a lot of running with the runners, and then we'd split off and do our own thing either in the weight room, or getting some throws. We try to take advantage of the fall when we can, because in the winter, we don't really get a chance to throw outside, so there's a lot of hammer throw, a lot of discus throwing, so that's always great, just to enjoy the weather. And also, a lot of get to know you stuff. It's a pretty small throwing group, so that's the time we make those connections.
Aaron: Well, one of the captains, you mentioned Katie Hughes, she's a thrower, so she works with you, probably, a lot, right?
Zack: Yeah. Oh yeah. Katie and I go way back. We lived on the same floor freshman year. We're great, great friends, so it's really nice to have her as a captain, who's also done this before, to kind of help me out every now and again, and really settle the team down whenever we have to.
Aaron: Terrific, so Drea, this being your senior year, I mean, obviously you've been doing this indoor, and then softball each year. If someone else came in and wanted to do the same thing, what would you tell them about the process?
Andrea: I would tell 'em definitely do it. It's a unique experience, 'cause I feel like I just have this huge family with the track team, both men's and women's, 'cause we are both very close with one another. And then, I go to more of a smaller, intimate family during the spring. But it's funny to have those two dynamics. It's one of those moments where I'm walking down Alumni, for example, and I wave hi to probably like, 10, 15 people. I'm not joking. And it's also good, too, because I feel the two sports really focus on different aspects. So with track, there are times where it's very individual, except for in relays, for example. But then, it's a lot of self and individual betterment. Whereas with softball, you cease thinking about yourself. It's all about your team, how you guys are doing. And just the competitions that come with both of them, the competitiveness associated with the two sports, it's pretty wild, just to go from, "Okay, I'm running in a meet. One race, here we go," to playing a seven inning game, eight inning game, I don't know how many innings it would be. Hopefully, if it's a good game. But yeah, no, it's wild. It's a really unique experience, and I am so honored to have been able to do this. Especially at Bates, because I know with all the other schools that I was looking at going to, this was not an option. And this was probably the best choice I've ever made.
Aaron: This year, what events are you doing in indoor?
Andrea: So this year, I'm primarily a 400 runner, and that's what I've been, pretty much, my whole track career, even in high school. And I also dabble in the 60 dash, and the 200. So we're gonna see how those go this year. But primarily focus is always, and will forever be the 400.
Aaron: Excellent. Well Drea touched on why she came to Bates. An opportunity to do softball and indoor track. Why did you make the decision back when you were in high school, to come here to Bates.
Zack: Yeah, I actually had no intention of joining the track team at all.
Zack: I wasn't recruited out of high school, or anything like that. I didn't even compete my final spring in high school. I had a pretty bad ankle injury from playing some pickup basketball. So, I was like, "I'm done with this track thing," but then I came here, and I visited some friends. I had a kid from my high school who had come to Bates and been on the track team here. He said, "You should really check it out. Talk to Coach. We have a great legacy up there, and you'll love the guys." So I came for a visit, hung out with the other track guys. And I was really like, "Yo, these are some really cool people. It's a really nice community and everything." I talked to Coach, and he was like, "Yeah, you definitely have the numbers to walk on and join our squad if you want to." So, Bates seemed like a really great place just from the visit, and then meeting the track people seemed like a really great team to want to join. And like I said, I would never look back on it any differently at all. The track team's been the closest group of friends I've had since being at Bates, and really just people I can depend on no matter what.
Aaron: And then the throwers within the track team, obviously, I'm sure Dire was a model for you. Who else were you following in their footsteps when you came here?
Zack: Yeah, so when I first came, the captain was Nick Margitza. He had quite a story. He was a great guy, very lovable. Just very, very friendly, so I was very happy to have him be my introduction to the track team. And like you said, Dire is just a great, big personality, so that's fun. Tom Endean was also there with them.
Zack: He gave a lot of guidance, teaching me how to get after it in the weight room, and also more the academic side, and the throwing side. So those are the guys that I really credit for being the people that I look up to, and think about when I think of track. It's crazy thinking that I'm a senior now, and maybe the freshman will look at me the same way. Maybe not, but looking at them, and thinking about them, they were just so above in my mind.
Aaron: How excited are you to see what John Rex does this year? Because I know there's a lot of excitement about him, right?
Zack: Yeah, Rex has been getting after the entire summer. You follow him on Instagram, anything, and he's just-
Andrea: I'm excited.
Aaron: You're excited?
Andrea: I'm excited, too.
Zack: Yeah, the kid was an absolute workhorse. And that's great, to have someone pushing you like that. So I'm really excited to see what he can do, and also working with him so far, during this past semester in the fall, and going into the winter. Getting a lot of tips here and there, because when you're working on your own, you do a lot of things that you think are gonna help you out, and you have your dad or something, some coaches looking at you. But when you have your other teammates who are really there, giving you those tips. He gives me tips, I give him tips, it only improves everything. And also, like you said, having that competition with each other, a little bit, too, is very nice. So I'm very excited to see what Rex does this season.
Aaron: Excellent. And Drea, who else, maybe Rex, obviously, you're very excited about him. But other athletes on the women's side, or on the men's side, you're looking to see maybe have a breakthrough year for the team?
Andrea: Yeah, I'm really excited to see how Ayden does this year, 'cause she had a fabulous season last year, and then came off of a strong cross country season. And she's one of my good friends, and I'm just so excited to see how she does. But also, I would say just in general, the women's distance team. All the distance runners. I am stoked to see how they do. I mean yeah, they're probably sad they don't get to run through some hills and stuff like that now, and they're stuck on an indoor track. Have to run twice as many laps as they do outdoors. But I just wanna see 'em finish strong, finish indoor strong, and then pick it back up for outdoor. And just really, really take in all the momentum from cross country season, into this season, too.
Aaron: All right, Drea Russo. Zack Campbell. Thanks so much for previewing the indoor track and field season. Thanks so much.
Zack: Yeah, thank you for having us.
Aaron: The men’s basketball team hosts Thomas College Tuesday at 7pm. Tuesday is also the final home match of the year for the squash teams, they host Wesleyan at 6:00 and a free fan bus departs Commons for the squash center at 5:30pm. The men’s basketball team is home Friday and Saturday for games against Middlebury and Williams. Find the complete schedule at gobatesbobcats.com. And we’ll recap all of this week’s action, next time, on the Bates Bobcast!