Bates Bobcast Episode 132: From winter to spring

Winter sports are still going strong at Bates, but spring sports have arrived as well! On this episode of the Bobcast, we take a look back at a big NESCAC Championships for the men's swimming and diving team by chatting with Male Bobcat of the Week and Lewiston native Matt Charest. Plus, the women's squash team won its third Walker Cup title in the last four years and we preview the tennis and softball seasons. All that and more...

Interviews this episode:

  • 1:25 -- Matthew Charest '20, Men's swimming (Male Bobcat of the Week).
  • 9:17 -- Kristyna Alexova '19, Vicky Arjoon '19 (Female Bobcat of the Week), Molly Brooks '19, Katie Bull '19, Women's squash seniors.
  • 16:20 -- Kathryn Grennon '21, Women's lacrosse.
  • 22:02 -- Paul Gastonguay '89, Head Coach, Women's and men's tennis.
  • 34:18 -- McKell Barnes, Head Coach, Softball.
  • 49:18 -- Brendan Donahue '20, Men's track and field.

Bobcast Transcript

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 look back on a big NESCAC Championships for the men’s swimming and diving team, by chatting with Male Bobcat of the Week and Lewiston native Matt Charest. Plus, the women’s squash team won its third Walker Cup title in the last four years….and we preview the tennis and softball seasons. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast!

Aaron: The men’s swimming and diving team achieved its goal of finishing in the upper half of the conference over the weekend, coming from behind on the final day to edge Colby for fifth-place at the NESCAC Championships. Lewiston native Matt Charest turned in a breakthrough performance for Bates, starting day one when he tied the program-record in the 50-yard breaststroke in the morning prelim and earned All-NESCAC honors with a third-place finish in the final. On day two, he finished fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke and helped Bates take sixth in the 200 medley relay. Then on the final day of competition, Charest earned more points for the Bobcats by finishing eighth in the 200-yard breastroke. And Matt Charest is our Male Bobcat of the Week!

Aaron: Tied the school record in the 50 yard breaststroke, how cool of an experience was that, I mean how were you feeling during that swim?

Matt: Yeah, so that was on the first day of the meet, and I was super excited to get in my first race, that was the first race that I had that was when I set the school record. So I was just excited ready to go and ready to score points for the team. I had prepared all season for NESCACs so that's the big event, so I was just really excited to get that first race out of the way and continue strong throughout the meet.

Aaron: Yeah, when you start the meet that strong, right, tie the school record, you had to come back and swim that night though, what's that mentality like going through the rest of the day preparing to swim at night?

Matt: Early in the day for the first session I usually like to try and swim my hardest because you're trying to qualify for an A, B, or C final, and if you swim fast enough you make the A final, which is a lot more points than a B, or C final. So that was pretty much my goal for the meet, to try and solidify at least three A finals and score as many points for the team as possible.

Aaron: Excellent and the team, by the way, overtook Colby in the final day, when did you learn that you'd overtaken them and what was that experience like?

Matt: Yeah, so coach had told us about how close the meet was, and we definitely knew throughout the whole meet that it was going to be close. And we were gunning for that fifth place finish right on top of Colby, and I think it was going right into the last relay, we were about five points ahead of Colby and we knew that we had to come up ahead of them in order to beat them. So it was really exciting and everybody performed perfectly to end the meet on a high note.

Aaron: What was the last relay?

Matt: The last relay was a 400 freestyle relay.

Aaron: Okay, so you were watching that one?

Matt: I was watching that one.

Aaron: What was the experience like watching from the pool deck?

Matt: From the pool deck, all the guys were behind the lanes just going crazy cheering so loud. So I think that was a great experience, I think that's almost an even better experience cheering for your teammates at the end of the lane, just seeing them swim extremely fast, so that was an awesome experience.

Aaron: The men's team obviously, you guys graduated so many record breaking swimmers last year, Teddy Pender, Riley Ewing, Jonathan Depew, the list goes on, what was it like this year with a younger team, a team with maybe less experience but still getting top half of the conference?

Matt: Yeah, so all the freshmen that came in to NESCACs were definitely nervous, I had some come up to me saying that they were nervous and I would just tell them you've trained all season for this, and you're prepared, you've gone to dual meets against most of these teams and you performed amazingly then, and why not now? You can do it now. And they definitely did and I thought that was awesome, and a lot of swimmers definitely stepped up in place of those people that we lost, which was also great to see.

Aaron: Last week, we talked with Caroline Apathy on the women's team and how she's so good at the butterfly, how did you get so good at the breaststroke?

Matt: In high school I kind of got good at breaststroke, I would always come to Bates swim camp and that'd be a particular thing that I would work on when I was here at swim camp in high school. And I think it's an interesting event and different from all the other strokes, and I think the breaststroke events are just meant for me.

Aaron: Excellent. Now at Lewiston High School did you have meets at Bates ever at Tarbell pool because I saw Lewiston and EL had a meet earlier this year?

Matt: Yeah, actually my senior meet was the first time we had a meet in high school at Bates, my last meet, so it was kind of really exciting knowing that I had Bates to think about next and I was having my last high school meet at Bates. So that was a really cool experience and it got me excited about Bates too.

Aaron: All right, so who else shined in your opinion at NESCACs, I mean obviously the team did really well?

Matt: Yeah I think both Tanner Fuller and Jem Bullock did really well, they went abroad this year, and coming back they were putting down impressive times, and really just like stunning us especially coming back from abroad. I thought they did very well. Also, Andrew Hall did extremely well and Pieter Cory there's just so many names that did so well I think most of the teams had personal best so those are just a few to name.

Aaron: Yeah, so now obviously with the off-season starting basically, right? What's your plan to come back strong for your senior year?

Matt: Yeah, so I'm excited to start lifting, get stronger I think that has helped throughout freshman year, sophomore year, and junior year, that's been a really big thing in the off-season to focus on. We're definitely going to get a group of swimmers into the weight room in the afternoons. And we'll have some time to swim as well. So just getting consistency going with weight training and also being in the pool consistently as well I think that will help me for senior year.

Aaron: I'm curious, we keep track of how our posts do on social media and obviously you being from Lewiston, the post was getting a lot of looks, I think I can tell your dad, or one of your relatives shared it, have you heard from locals in the Lewiston area about what you did at NESCACs?

Matt: Yeah, they're really excited especially my parents, my parents are extremely supportive can't thank them enough. And it seems like the post my dad shared many people have been saying congratulations, and I thank them all for that, that's really awesome and really great to see that I'm having an impact out there as well. So yeah.

Aaron: Do you feel this year ... I mean obviously, it was a breakthrough NESCACs for you, do you feel this year and the whole has been kind of breakthrough in terms of you going from being underclassman and now to an upperclassman?

Matt: Yeah definitely feel like I have a new role on the team, I definitely feel like I'm able to give advice to some freshmen a bit more easily, and then also getting advice from the seniors is great to have and I'm hoping to continue that next year and provide advice and support to anybody that needs it on the team. And I think it's a great role to have and I feel like my career at Bates has helped me do this.

Aaron: All right, well one more year to go, Matt Charest Male Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.

Matt: Thank you so much have a good one.

Aaron: The women’s squash team won its third Walker Cup title in the last four years at team nationals over the weekend. The Bobcats defeated Hamilton 9-0 on Friday, then swept Dickinson 9-0 in Saturday’s semifinals and defeated Tufts 6-3 to clinch the title on Sunday. Bates had lost twice previously to Tufts this year, but this time the Bobcats pulled out the win. Senior captain Vicky Arjoon is our Female Bobcat of the Week, having swept all three of her matches. But to wrap up the women’s squash season we sat down with all four seniors: Arjoon, co-captain Kristyna Alexova, Katie Bull and Molly Brooks. These four went a combined 11-1 over the weekend.

Aaron: Coming off team nationals, a third Walker Cup title in four years for the team Katie, we'll start with you at number nine. You'd played this Tufts woman twice before this year, this time you were able to sweep her what was the big difference for you turning the tables this time around you think?

Katie: My other teammates just really motivated me to come back this time and do it for the team I just really wanted to make that contribution.

Aaron: What was really working out there on the court you thought?

Katie: I was just a lot more focused and ready to go from the start and jumped to an early lead and held on to that.

Aaron: Vicky you swept everyone you faced this weekend what was working for you out there?

Vicky: Definitely felt a bit more confident I think coming off of NESCACs I've played several of these girls before and throughout the regular seasons and sort of like knowing their game and that builds up confidence that I had going in knowing that this is my last nationals, this is my last imprint on Bates squash. I think that really motivated me to push for myself and for the girls.

Aaron: And Kristyna how did it feel to end your career on high note like this in terms of your time here at Bates and what you've done and winning a third Walker Cup? What was it like after that final match perhaps?

Kristyna" I mean I was really happy because it was probably the last match of my squash career so I tried to give it all and just to like be there for the team and everything and we won so it felt great.

Aaron: Absolutely and Molly you know two of those teams, Dickinson and Tufts, are teams you lost to before this year, what's it like for you, flipping that script a bit?

Molly: Individually, I didn't but as a team it was really awesome to get that win especially coming from 6-3 loss I think in the beginning of the season to that, it just felt really good to just do it all together. I played against Dickinson too, I lost to Dickinson earlier in the season as the whole team did, so it was really good to get that win especially 9-0 that was a big change so it felt really good.

Aaron: Yeah, way back in November you played Dickinson at the start of the season, right? Katie, it seems like the team obviously is much different at the end, you had some big additions throughout the year with Katie and Maeve coming back and that much has really helped things as well?

Katie: Yeah just having everyone come back and with the extra training and motivation from being together for a longer amount of time we really came together.

Aaron: Vicky, you're competing at individual nationals for the fourth time in your career, what's the experience been like the last few seasons playing there and what have you taken from that into this season?

Vicky: It's been pretty intense before ... I mean just looking back on it now I remember my first individual nationals with Kristyna freshman year, it was really tough going into it because you know you're playing some top players in the country, you don't know where you'll end up on the draw, so you really and truly you could be playing somebody from a NESCAC college or from an Ivy league, it really depends. And I think that level of competition really pushes me to focus on my individual game and to better my own personal game but at the same time I'm also representing Bates squash, so it's really a great way to go out with a bang.

Aaron: Kristyna you and Vicky were the captains this year, what's that experience like for you being one of the captains?

Kristyna: It was a great experience I remember we had Eliza at the beginning and so it was a bit more work like when she left in January but ... I mean Vicky's been doing a lot of work so. And it was pretty much my first leadership experience, she did that last year so she taught me a lot.

Aaron: For sure Molly what was it like to have these two as the captains?

Vicky: It was great Vicky and Kristyna are my best friends so it was a lot of fun having two people that I knew really well but also knew I could to talk to about everything as captains and leaders. So they're just really awesome and super supportive and really I think it made everyone on the team feel like they contributed too, which I think is really important on a small team. There are 10 of us give or take a few, so it was really nice to have two people that I knew really well and could talk to about anything.

Aaron: Katie, similar thoughts, seems like the team has a lot of laughs, a fun team?

Katie: Yeah, we always have a really fun time together, and you can tell that Vicky and Kristyna really care about us so that means a lot.

Aaron: Molly, I'm curious after it was all over what did Pat kind of say to the team after winning that Walker Cup title?

Molly: I mean he turned to the four of us and just said thank you for four great years, I think the four of us have been through a lot of changes in the Bates squash program and Pat's been through some changes too with his own life, so I think it's been ... Yeah, he was just saying thank you and congratulations and I think yeah, just doing it all the four of us it's really nice to have all four of us as a team, and I think that's really kind of what helped me especially get through the four years, just having them be a support system, which is really great.

Aaron: Kristyna I'm curious to know when you graduate from Bates this spring and everything do you have plans on playing squash after graduation because some kids say they don't want to and some want to continue?

Kristyna: I've been playing for about like now it's like 13 years or so. So I think individually I don't want to play anymore but I might coach like kids or just occasionally head-to-head with someone else but-

Aaron: So maybe some coaching?

Kristyna: Yeah, maybe some coaching but I'm not planning on playing competitive anymore.

Aaron: Yeah so from a coaching perspective obviously, you get a lot of great experience because you coach each other kind of, right? What's that experience been like?

Vicky: Definitely, I've been in situations where Katie Bull was playing three our freshman year and Kristyna was playing one so we've really been around each other for forever and I think that I respect their opinion more than anyone else. And I think that they know my game better than anyone else. So we're then truly like coming off court between games they can see from a whole new side of my game that I really need to learn from and I really and truly value that.

Aaron: Katie, I'm curious because I believe you told me before your dad played here, and so you're continuing the squash tradition and whatnot, what were your talks with him about like throughout these four years maybe about playing for the women's squash team here?

Katie: It's definitely been a really big part of my career at Bates and I think it means a lot to my dad to see that and he was there for my last match yesterday, which meant a lot to me.

Aaron: What was it like for you walking off the court after you won and it's like, this is it, right?

Katie: Yeah, it's kind of crazy but it's been a great four years and I'll definitely miss the team a lot.

Aaron: All right, we got Katie Bull, Vicky Arjoon, Kristyna Alexova, and Molly Brooks, thanks so much for joining the Bobcast, appreciate it.

Aaron: The lacrosse teams got their seasons underway last week. The men took on No. 3 nationally ranked RIT on the UMass-Amherst campus and came up just short, falling 14-12. Junior captain Curtis Knapton scored three goals and junior captain Matt Chlastawa tallied a goal and three assists in the loss. In women’s lacrosse, Bates visited Cabrini on Thursday and the Bobcats won by a final score of 20-12. Senior Katie Allard and sophomore Summer Dias scored four goals apiece, and newcomer sophomore Kathryn Grennon also scored four goals in her Bates debut. Grennon is a transfer from Williams & Mary and she joined the Bobcast to talk about her journey to becoming a Bobcat.

Kathryn: I decided to transfer when I realized that the division one rigor of lacrosse was just too much for me as a student athlete and going to boarding school, NESCAC was a no brainer so I started looking at schools last year and Bates just ended up being the school that fit the best for me.

Aaron: So how was that process, you know were you looking at Bates coming out of high school also or was it just you decided after William and Mary wasn't working out that you wanted to come to the NESCAC?

Kathryn: So yeah, my junior year I was kind of deciding whether or not I wanted to go to division one route or the division three route, so I definitely was looking at Bates because I always just heard amazing things about Bates from people from my high school and growing up in Maine. And then once I decided that I wanted to go division one, it kind of obviously, went to the back of my head but then the whole time I just knew that if I could see myself at Bates and I knew that it would be if I wanted to transfer it would be an awesome place for me.

Aaron: So this past week was your first time playing in a lacrosse game in a while, right?

Kathryn: Yeah, it was the first time I played in real lacrosse game since my senior year of high school, so it was definitely a long time coming but it was really awesome.

Aaron: Four goals, right? So how did it open up on the field for you on attack?

Kathryn: Yeah so our attacking unit has a really good chemistry this year and just good passes inside like my teammates made it really easy for me and yeah my shots just went in which was really awesome.

Aaron: Often, it's about adjustments from high school to college, what adjustments have you made going from first boarding school to William and Marry and now to Bates?

Kathryn: Yeah I mean definitely last year playing fall ball we had lacrosse multiple times a week so even though I haven't played since high school I did a lot of lacrosse last fall and transitioning to college that transition was pretty smooth through that first semester so coming back it wasn't too hard to get used to the pace of play, but obviously the NESCAC is a really fast paced league. So I'll be interested to see once I get into the NESCAC play.

Aaron: And you have a fellow division one transfer Caitie Clark who's your roommate, how's that been?

Kathryn: We get along really well, and having that bond ... I mean it's not that often that we have transfers to the NESCAC I know Brett said we've only had one other transfer ever and so having the two of us at the same time both coming from division one schools, has just been awesome and it made the transition super easy.

Aaron: And tell us about her a bit, her background, and whatnot?

Kathryn: Yeah, so she's from Rumson, New Jersey and she played at Lafayette College last year and both of her brothers went here and played on the men's team. One of her brothers is a senior right now, Cooper Clark, so I think for her Bates was a no brainer, and she's an awesome defender. She's a really big presence on the field so it's been awesome to have her through the whole transition as well.

Aaron: So, growing up in Cape Elizabeth when did you start playing lacrosse, when did you get into the sport?

Kathryn: Yeah, in Cape Elizabeth I'm sure it's even earlier now, but at my time we started in third grade and starting by fifth grade I started playing Maniacs, which is actually the club team that both of our coaches Lauren and Brett own together. So I knew Lauren and Brett from when I was little and once I switched my boarding school I played for a team in Massachusetts but ... Yeah, playing with them had always been nice because transferring here was a super easy transition because I had worked with them before but yeah I started in third grade.

Aaron: So Brett has he coached you before or?

Kathryn: He didn't own the club until later on but Lauren our assistant had been my coach since I was in like fifth grade so yeah it was super easy and even in high school I would meet with her and shoot around with her so it was awesome to have her as an assistant.

Aaron: Well, Lauren has been assistant here before but this is her first year back after a couple of years away, did you know when you were coming to Bates that she was going to be assistant coach this season?

Kathryn: No, I actually had no idea, and we didn't find out until recently and I had shot around with her over winter break before she was even the assistant coach and it was just awesome. I was super excited to find out.

Aaron: Outstanding and then so one game in how's the team looking, what can you tell us about what you saw from your teammates this past week?

Kathryn: Yeah, I think we have a really great team this year obviously I haven't been here in the past years but the chemistry is awesome, we've a really great dynamic everyone gets along so well. And our week in New Jersey, we finally got the flow of some our new systems and so far we've looked awesome.

Aaron: I know you had an exhibition game before the regular season game against Cabrini how did that help everybody?

Kathryn: Yeah I think with our new subbing system where we're kind of playing more attack and defense, not as many midfielders it too a while to work out the kinks with just having too many people on and all the offsides kind of stuff but once we got that worked out in our exhibition game Cabrini game, it was super smooth and it's looking awesome.

Aaron: Yeah, so the system on the roster is only one midfielder listed so how does that work kind of?

Kathryn: Yeah, it's just kind of like three people come off in the defense and three people come on from the offense it's kind of more like the men's game where they have offensive middies and defensive middies but yeah, it's worked out really well so far and I think we're working to our strengths and using more attacking minded players and defensive minded players and not as many midfielders this year.

Aaron: What have you got coming this week, I believe you have a game coming up here?

Kathryn: Yeah, so we're playing Wheaton College tomorrow down at Wheaton and we're super excited to have a game more up north and then we are looking forward to our first NESCAC game on Saturday against Middlebury.

Aaron: There are quite a few road games before you finally get a home one there on Garcelon.

Kathryn: Yeah, we're super excited for Garcelon, but yeah we've got a couple of games on the road before that.

Aaron: All right, Kathryn Grennon thanks so much for joining us on the Bobcast appreciate it.

Yeah, thank you.

Aaron: The tennis teams traveled to Florida last week to get their spring season underway. The men won the doubles point against Division II Rollins College and the Bobcats defeated Rose-Hulman 8-1. The women’s team geared up for Division III play with matches against Division II Rollins and Division I Oakland respectively. Head coach Paul Gastonguay talks about his teams’ challenging trip.

Paul: We really enjoyed this trip, we've got some amazing work done, the weather was phenomenal was close to almost 90 degrees every day high 80s so it was an adjustment in terms of dealing with the heat and the fitness but I thought we did a really good job with that. The nice thing about playing in the heat is you're loose immediately but then conditioning is a big part. So we did double sessions Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and then we started our match play on Wednesday and Thursday it was an amazing trip I mean the beautiful part about it like California is great we've been there for 10 years and there's some great D3 teams to play out there but it's our first week of practice. So it's really tough to go out and fly six, seven hours get off a plan, train for a day and then start playing matches and this year we decided to make it up and go to Florida.

Paul: We trained at the USTA National Campus, which is the most phenomenal facility in the country, it's where all the US upcoming pros and touring pros train so the facilities are top-notch they have over a 100 courts, they have collegiate bank of courts, which is set up for live broadcast of six matches and they a bank of six on one side and six on the other and so it's a phenomenal facility to play at and to train at. So we had the opportunity to train there and we played two matches against Rollins. Rollins College is Division Two mostly, almost full scholarship because they can give academic money as well as athletic money, so a lot of international players on both teams so very high level team, they beat a lot of D1 teams, they're very strong year in, year out. And I was really pleased with our performance having only four practices, four day of practice and we went right in to playing a very high level team and the women played phenomenal.

Paul: The score was a 6-1 score but we were in the doubles matches we really played well, big adjustment, they only play six games sets for doubles and it's no add scoring so you get down a break and it's super quick but we were actually up a break in a couple matches and then it kind of went the other way but I thought we fought really well. We played really strong tennis so it was a great way to start the season, and we got a win from Hannah Sweeney at number one, which was a lot of fun, she played a phenomenal match. And then the guys played Rollins next day on Thursday and we ended up wining the doubles point as in division one and two you play a seven point match and you get one point for doubles so if you win two out of three doubles you get the doubles point. So we won pretty convincingly at the top two spots and we lost at the third spot but we got the doubles point and we played really strong in singles as well.

Paul: Josh Quijano lost in a match tie breaker at number one and Vidyut Yadav lost a match tiebreaker at number three, we were really close in a couple of other matches so I was pleased with that but again it's a work in progress and we have to get a lot tougher.

Aaron: Well, yeah you're challenging these teams right away I mean the women first of all, you had a D2 match the women won in the fall against Merrimack now you have them play a D2 team in Rollins, I mean also a D1 team at Oakland. I mean they haven't even played a D3 team! 

Paul: I know we had this amazing opportunity to play Oakland University out of Michigan and they needed a match, they had lost a match, they got rained out and we were there and we had a date left on our schedule the way it worked out so it was a phenomenal opportunity for us to play on Thursday with the women. And it was amazing they battled, they played super strong and it was good tennis all around and our break is so early we don't really match up with anyone so there's really ... It's hard to find matches and this week we did a lot more training, which was very beneficial. We got a lot of things in place, you could see by our doubles play was strong because we were able to work on some stuff early in the week. So I was really pleased, really great opportunities to test ourselves right off the bat.

Aaron: Yeah you mentioned Hannah Sweeney winning her match against the number one player for Rollins, where do you see her development, it seems like she's picking up right where she felt off, great year last year as well of course for Bates?

Paul: Yeah, all the girls on the team they work really hard, Hannah is super coachable she has a unique game, she mixes up the tempo but we've given her sort of the ability to hit a higher tempo ball, a heavier ball and her serve has come along. It's starting to be a really massive serve that she can dictate and get some free points, some aces, which she didn't have last year which is really fun to see. But no matter who watches her play, they'll say the same thing she's a rock, she's mentally tough, she fights every single point, it doesn't matter who she plays so it's an inspiration to the rest of the team but I think we have that collectively one through 11 on the women's team, no one gives up. They fight for every point win or loose they come back and they reset and they play another tough point and it's really cool to see.

Aaron: Certainly on the men's side the double point you won against Rollins tell us about the doubles teams and how they're shaping up.

Paul: Well, when you graduate a couple superstar doubles players in our lineup like Ben Rosen and Josh Leiner who are part of our doubles from freshman year, it's tough we had to kind of mix everything up and we have some up and comers guys who have been in the lineup but are more singles players who have really grown as doubles players over the last couple of years. So Jacob of course, Kauppila was with Ben as All-Americans in doubles and so he and Q are just like, they're so super athletic and I think that's what we have on this is a lot of athleticism and I mean there's nothing they can't do and what we're working on is really locking in, making sure we're focused, making sure we're playing the right game plan and simplifying because they have so many options. They're super talented but we're trying to rein that in and play a more basic game but Q and Kaup are playing unbelievable together. And then Vid and Glover really playing some good ball together again, super athletic just amazing hands super fast.

Paul: And then we have Duane A.K.A. Diesel and Alex Kennedy, two bomb serves playing three doubles right now. Things are subject to change as the season moves on but when you have two serves over 120 miles an hour at three doubles if we're consistent with it that's a pretty solid point for us so.

Aaron: Yeah I've been in Merrill gym and I see Duane Davis is always out here doing workouts, seems like he's really working hard on that serve.

Paul: He is, he's so strong we're trying to get him to focus on loosening up and letting his racket speed do the work and I think that's making a big difference this year. He's really locked into that and he's getting a lot more of his location down, he can put the ball wherever he wants consistently and it's just such a heavy ball, it sets up your partner at the net every time it's an easy volley for the most part.

Aaron: So the tennis team is home this weekend, tell about the match ups we've got coming up right here at Merrill Gym.

Paul: Well, doesn't matter if it's Division two, one, or three our opponents are all tough, we've got Mount Holyoke coming in this weekend for the women on Saturday, and then the men face off against Wheaton. And we have to play our best tennis every time we go out there. I think that's the biggest thing we work on is bringing full intensity and really controlling the things we control in playing our brand of tennis and our intensity and our focus is what we're trying to walk in and play the same not matter who our opponent is, and then you're going to have good results if we do that. If we play one way versus one opponent another way versus another opponent, we're not going to play well so it's really monitoring our level, our mode and making sure we're doing everything the same way in terms of our preparation leading up to it, in terms of our psyche going into the match and out focus and treating each opponent with respect.

Paul: No matter who we play we want to treat them like they're Rodger Federer or Serena Williams, and say hey today is a day that I need to prove I am the best competitor out there and if I do that good things will happen. And then Sunday we face off against my former player whose now the coach at Brandeis, Ben Lamanna and his two squads on Sunday in the women at 10:00 and the men to follow at 3:00. So they've a very good program he's done an amazing job, a lot of respect for what he's done over there and it's always a challenge playing Brandeis because I know they're very well-coached and they're pretty feisty but we're looking forward to the opportunity this weekend.

Aaron: Well how many former players do you have in the coaching ranks?

Paul: Right now, I have two so Ben Lamanna is at Brandeis and Will Boe-Wiegaard at Sacred Heart, Division One team in Connecticut and so another former assistant Jason Box is the head coach at Swarthmore now. So it's pretty neat to have people that have been part of our program, who are having success on their own out there.

Aaron: Is this the first time you'll be squaring off against one of your former players though?

Paul: No, we play Brandeis every year, and it's always a grudge match and whoever wins at the end we kind of give each other a hug and say 'great job I'm sorry I beat you but I'm also very happy.' Hopefully we're on that side of it this time.

Aaron: So what are your thoughts on the meat of the season coming up here in March, in April?

Paul: We just take it day by day and there's a lot of tennis to play, there's a lot of time to improve, the busy part of the semester is right around the corner with finals coming up so that's something we talk about every day, it's just consistently being on top of our school work, getting our rest, getting to sleep at reasonable hour every night, and training hard. And then the objective is get better every day, find some part of your game to get better every day and we're focused on our beacon, our end goal at the end is to do something really great at the end of the season but we control our day to day process. If we do that really well and we take care of our things, we're going to be better teammates, we're going to be better competitors with each other and as a team we'll be stronger.

Aaron: All right, Paul Gastonguay thanks so much.

Paul: Thank you.

Aaron: The baseball team opened its season with a trip to Florida as well, dropping four games with Augustana before ending the trip on a high note on Saturday when the Bobcats defeated Capital University 12-3. Senior Justin Foley struck out a career-high 10 batters in the win. Through five games, the Bates offense has been strong, with the Bobcats hitting .321 as a team.

Aaron: Speaking of strong offenses, head coach McKell Barnes is very excited about the Bates softball team’s lineup this year. With a strong returning core and some exciting newcomers, the Bobcats are ready to make a splash in the NESCAC. Their season gets underway Sunday in Florida.

Aaron: Time to preview the Bates softball season here on the Bobcast with head coach McKell Barnes and well, coach first of all, last year obviously, set a program record for wins in one season, it was a breakthrough year for the team. What's kind of next step in your mind to take this team from 20 wins last year and a NESCAC tournament bid to maybe be one of the top two teams in your division basically?

McKell: Yeah really good question I think last year was a lot of fun I think what that did for our returners was give them a mindset of why not us? And I think moving onto this year, we still have ... or not still but we have a group of six incoming first-years who have never played, so last year we've been really just letting it stay in the past and just thinking about what we have the task at hand coming up and taking it one day at a time. And I think for those returners understanding that has to be our mindset moving forward, last year was fun but we've turned that page and I think having that experience under our belts will be really, really great for us moving into this upcoming season and understanding that we're capable of really great things. So we certainly want to build on what we started last year but we understand that we've turned that page and now we have a new challenge in front of us.

Aaron: Well in terms of returnees we've got two All-NESCAC returnees starting with in the circle Kirsten Pelletier and the year she had last season probably everything you hoped when you were recruiting her from Messalonskee High School right?

McKell: Absolutely K.P. has been our workhorse for the last two years and we expect more of that, and expect her to continue to improve into this year and next. She has a unique mindset and I think that's something that separates her from many other pitchers across our conference. She knows that her best stuff will beat your best stuff and what more can you ask for as a coach.

Aaron: And then you had first-year Caroline Bass last season now sophomore come in and all she did was win the NESCAC batting title.

McKell: Yeah, unreal to lead the NESCAC batting in average as a first-year is really impressive, Caroline is also someone who is never satisfied she continuously works on her craft and her tool box is pretty full with different styles of at bats and I think that makes her really dangerous. Obviously, her speed is incredible and you can't teach that, she just has a great knack for the game, and we trust her instincts, and whatever she decides I'm onboard with, whether it's up at bat or running the bases. I trust her full heartedly.

Aaron: And then you have a couple of seniors Andrea Russo has been a big time contributor her whole time here at Bates, also does some indoor track, we've talked to her about that. Got be excited to her back at the top of the lineup also, right?

McKell: Yeah absolutely Andrea has put in so much work these last three years now going into her fourth year, and I think understanding and seeing the fruits of her labor paying off has been really exciting for me to watch and I know for her as well too. And so we're looking for Andrea to be a leader and to ... I think one of our assistant coaches coach Danica had a really good thing to say to her as far as she's a table setter and we're going to continue to look on and lean on her to do that for us this upcoming season.

Aaron: So like we talked about one of your returnee pitchers Kirsten Pelletier but also Payton Buxton who contributed at the plate, just like K.P. did last year but also in the circle what's her next step you know as a sophomore coming in your from a pitching perspective perhaps?

McKell: Yeah Payton has really, really great stuff and it's sneaky good because she has this very quiet presence on the mound, she's very calm, cool, and collected and we can always count on her to maintain that. I think for Payton in her sophomore season we want to see her continue to develop those movement pitches on a more consistent basis and I think we've been seeing that in practice and certainly we want our pitchers peaking at the time in the seasons. So we're going to continue that improvement but I think for Payton and K.P. it just that mindset of I'm getting a good drive off the mound and hitting their spots, and hitting their spin pitches well so that they're throwing the ball hard, and obviously keeping the batters off balance. So we want to continue to see Payton and K.P. both take steps in improvement in that area and we should see good things from that.

Aaron: Returning behind the plate catcher Mary Collette who stepped in last year as a first-year and took the starting job and didn't let go. I mean that's probably pretty impressive to have someone come in and do that right away in a demanding position like catcher?

McKell: Absolutely, and Mary has exceeded all of our expectations and she works her tail off behind the plate and hopefully with more catching depth this season we can provide a bit of a break for her to keep her fresh and again we want to be peaking going into NESCAC playoffs. And I think staying fresh we now have that flexibility to do that but certainly Mary what we've seen from her has really developed her leadership the way that she talks to her teammates, the way that she talks to the younger pitching staff has been really impressive. And it's something that we want to continue to see Mary thrive in and continue to grow and certainly we believe she's capable of that.

Aaron: You mentioned more catching depth this year, I've noticed on the roster more so than maybe in past years you have players up and down the roster either have utility by their name or just multiple positions they can play tell us about that dynamic having players being able to play all over the field.

McKell: Yeah, that's been one of our primary recruiting strategies in the last couple of years and I think we're starting to see that strategy really come to fruition, and the more ability that we have to have that flexibility or the flexibility that we have within that has been really, really beneficial for us. We can shift different people around or sometimes it's based on who's hot hitting and if we're able to defensively make some changes to get whoever is hot in the lineup fantastic. I think having that utility background you're more a student of the game, you understand what the game is giving you versus staying very boxed into your position and not really knowing what else is taking place. I think we try to really communicate that the more you're a student of the game the better off you're going to be in game time, real time, trust those instincts and you have to make fast decisions and we have to ensure that our players are well prepared to do that. And I think being able to play in different positions helps really build those skills there.

Aaron: I know you're very excited about the first-year class, tell us about them.

McKell: Yes, we are very excited I think all six of them bring first and foremost a really unique personality they are hard working, they're committed to excellence, in the classroom they've been really doing well and that can always be an unknown transition and so we're proud of them for that work. They ask really great questions I would say that's probably one of the biggest differences we've seen with this first-year class compared to other years is that they ask really good questions. They want to know, they're hungry for knowledge, they work hard and from that I think naturally we see this depth in skill where we haven't had this kind of depth since I been here and the first-year class I think is a huge anchor in that. And they come from pretty much all over the country and so their background and experience, their different cultures, their different personalities, how that is being sprinkled into our program. We've seen just our overall culture be really positive and supportive and inclusive, and I think people are jiving and using each other more now than I've ever seen in years past.

McKell: So the first-years are really exciting, they're a lot of fun to get to know, they have great senses of humor, and we certainly are excited to see what they're able to do on the softball field.

Aaron: Two of them are from Hawaii, I know how did you go about recruiting them from Hawaii to come up to Lewiston?

McKell: Really good question, so it was a bit of luck. I work a camp out in southern California every summer and Janell and Kennedy had come to this camp and the way that the camps designed I'm able to coach players or camp attendees, and if you're at this camp you figure out like there are some players that you just click with and some players that you jive with a bit more than others and Kennedy and Janell were both two players who immediately got the circle on my sheet. Within that we got them out to campus and here's where the luck came in it was a perfect 78 degree day, for Janell I think Kennedy came a little later on one of those really hot fall days that we had in September, a couple of years ago so we couldn't ask for better weather, and they got on campus and it just worked. And so between seeing them and working with them out at the camp we were able to establish a good relationship there and then obviously when they came on campus luck swung our way that day.

Aaron: I've been hearing they can both really hit you know Janell and Kennedy?

McKell: Holly smokes they can, yes. They're different style of hitters, Kennedy she slaps, but she can also slap for power, and she can also stand still and hit for power. She gives us either a Dre or Caroline 2.0 and so that's going to be really exciting stuff for our lineup, and then Janell she swings the bat, it's unreal. She has tremendous hands, she has tremendous barrel control, we're thinking she'll be sliding right into that maybe three, four slot. I certainly think that she'll be one of our top hitters and we're excited to see what she's going to be able to do.

Aaron: Yeah and that middle of that order I mean Julia Panepinto another returner she's obviously known for her leadership in volleyball and great leader on the softball field as well, right?

McKell: Absolutely Julia she's unlike probably any other athlete here at Bates not only is she one of the top leaders in the athletic program, but the amount of work that she puts into the weight room is extremely impressive and so she's into that Olympic lift, which is pretty neat, but she has this greedy just x factor energy that you can't teach, or you can't coach it's just ingrained in her personality. And she's a hard worker, and I think she sets an example for others to follow, and we never have to worry about what kind of energy Julia is going to bring. She brings that onto the volleyball court, and we see that also on the softball field, and so it's something special to watch. And we're very lucky to have her.

Aaron: Okay, the NESCAC this year, I mean I know last year obviously within your division Tufts and Bowdoin were pretty good opponents, you beat both of them though, once which was huge, right? I mean how's NESCAC looking from your eyes this year?

McKell: And I could be wrong about this I don't think that's ever happened before where we beat Bowdoin and Tufts in the same season, and I think for us we no longer ... I don't think we're sitting right in the middle of that division I think we're going to be at the very top of the division. I think we have the pieces in place obviously we have to execute but I certainly think that we will be right in that mix of playing for the number one seed in the east division, who might I add hosts this year.

McKell: So I think Tufts and Bowdoin and Trinity and Colby all good opponents but I think for us to ... There's not anyone that we're fearful of, there's not anyone that we think that can outplay us, we just have to do our jobs and do it well, and execute, and take care of our business.

Aaron: So this Florida trip I know last year a lot of success on the Florida trip last season did you feel like that really set the tone and are you emphasizing that to your team this year that last year was so key to get these early wins in non-conference even though they don't necessarily play in the NESCAC tournament seeding and whatnot?

McKell: Yeah, like I said we have turned the page from ... We haven't even discussed last year's Florida trip to be honest with you. I think we're actually looking ahead to our opponents this year for Florida and we've got a tough schedule, which is a good thing, and I think we're going to see our competition this year in Florida be stronger than what we faced last year in Florida. I don't think we're really thinking about an overall record walking away, obviously we want to win as many games as we can but what we really, really want to do is prepare ourself for NESCAC series when we're back. And that's putting together good at bats, that's obviously hitting our spots pitching, defensively obviously playing sound games. So if we do all of those things, I think we'll see that we'll compete and hopefully play well and win some games and obviously it always feels good to come home riding high, but we certainly go into this trip just wanting to take care of our business.

McKell: And so with that we want to prepare ourselves as much as possible and we open with Tufts, and we know that's going to be a tough series down in Medford. So playing stronger teams that's going to just help us prepare more so, so whatever our record looks like from that hopefully it's a good one but again we're more focused on our process of just playing the game the right way getting some live at bats under our belt, touching dirt. I say this every year touching dirt for the first time which is crazy but par for the course, and we certainly I think just grab a hold of that, and run with it. And hey it is what it is let's go have fun doing it.

Aaron: All right, McKell Barnes thanks so much for previewing the softball season with us.

McKell: Thank you Aaron.

Aaron: In track and field, the Bates men placed 8th at the New England Division III Indoor Championships hosted by MIT. Junior captain Brendan Donahue led the way with a PR in the heptathlon, scoring 4,580 points, 21 points above his previous best score.

Aaron: You do the Heptathlon in the winter then you do the Decathlon in spring how did you first get into these multi events because it's obviously a grueling process, certainly you get to master different events sometimes that have no relation to each other how did that first develop for you?

Brendan: Absolutely, so in high school I did soccer, basketball, and track. And in track I kind of just mostly focused primarily on the jumps, but heading into college I met with coach Fresh prior to applying to Bates and I said maybe I'm interested in doing track particularly the jumps. And it's something my coaches in high school talked about a few times seeing whether I wanted to explore the multi, but it wasn't until I got to Bates that first meeting with Fresh where he sat me down and said hey you've got the perfect frame for it, I'd love to explore it with you. And my dad is a Batesee, he high jumped here, so I'm kind of living in his legacy a little, and he takes pride in it, and it was always something that he wishes he had done and so I think that he was hurdler jumper and so I think coming here originally I wasn't so sure I was going to do track and then I met with coach Fresh and he got me amped up, and I was really excited about exploring the potential doing the multi.

Brendan: Also, it was about the time Ashton Eaton set the world record in the Olympics that was ... The Olympic record excuse me, and so that was pretty awesome to see. So I think that got me in the mindset that this is something I want to actually pursue.

Aaron: Interesting, your dad competed here, was that with Walt Slovenski then?

Brendan: Yeah so my dad was 1984 is when he graduated, he was a six-eight high jumper, so he kind of instilled that love for track.

Aaron: Nice, is high jump the first one you started really doing or when did-

Brendan: Actually so early my first couple years of high school I primarily just did long jump and triple jump, and I wasn't any good at it and then later in high school I think with a couple of meets left I explored the high jump and the hurdles and I had some success in the hurdles and also the high jump, and so I was like what else should I pick up so that's kind of landed itself well into what I've done here.

Aaron: And you often have to compete not by yourself but like in a separate day from everyone else right because it's an involved process, what's that dynamic like?

Brendan: Absolutely, it's really different because usually I was so accustomed to going into a track met and it's just been like you show up, you do a couple of events yada, yada, yada, but this is a lot more tasking than any other event because it's not just physical it's also mental. And I think especially in this past weekend I learned a bit more about mental aspect and you have to really have a short term memory when it comes to each event because you have to think of it as a collective event rather than just a single event that will take you to the entire thing so it's a conglomeration of many athletic things.

Aaron: Well, let's talk about this weekend because on paper we're talking off air is the most points you've ever scored in the heptathlon, but you were not satisfied, tell us about what more there is out there for you possibly on the table?

Brendan: Yeah so in the past couple seasons I've had ... The way I look at the multi and I think Coach Fresh thinks of it in very similar terms is it's a building process and so it's your kind of start at square one in many respects here you're building on each event and there's development in a lot of times improvement in certain events will lead to higher score. And so that first meet I was satisfied with the qualifier earlier at Bates, the Quad meet I was pretty satisfied with the score but ... Yeah, just going into this meet I was expecting a big long jump and a big shot put but unfortunately I kind of got in my head a bit, so that's part of learning the mental game of this sport and that's something you definitely have to develop. And so ideally if I had another chance I would ... I know exactly what I would have to do and so I think it's a learning process and even as a junior I'm still trying to get grasp of it.

Aaron: So to give our audience some context right after the meet you were 17th, but a few other meets wrapped up and now you're 23rd right now in the country they take 20 there's no opportunity the last chance meet for this particular event the heptathlon in general, so it's just a waiting game for you. What's this waiting game like?

Brendan: This year they changed the rules where they used to take 15 athletes but now they take 20, so that's a bit different, and a lot more guys are getting in five more specifically. So it depends on whether I get in this contingent on the fact whether people declare so if someone's going into individual event say for instance, someone's jumping six-10 in the high jump they made it clear in that event and not the heptathlon. So there is a chance but ... So right now I'm on the fence of whether I will go, right now I'm not, but even if I'm not my focus is going to be bring it in the decathlon and outdoors and hopefully get a good qualifier that will put me in at least top 10 for the rest of this season that would be ideal.

Aaron: Sure absolutely. Well, tell us what events are added when you move to outdoor season.

Brendan: The added events are javelin, discus, the hurdles switch to 110, the 100 dash, the 400, the 1,500 that's always been my Achilles heel I'm not a good runner, as many of my teammates can attest and even my coach. So it's an entire different game and in many ways adding the throwing events really is almost like an adrenaline rush for me because a lot of it is new to me but any time you catch a big throw it's ... I can't even explain the sensation it is to like being to huck a discus 120 feet.

Aaron: And of course you have coach Fereshetian coaching you there, right?

Brendan: Absolutely, his experience is unparalleled with any other coach, it's amazing having him as a resource.

Aaron: And I was talking with Amanda Kaufman who does multi events in the women's side she said it's really nice you get to know kind of everyone on your team because some times sprinters are just with sprinters or distance is probably with distance but you have to work ... You work with everybody, right?

Brendan: Absolutely, and that's been an awesome experience because I think like I might primarily work with the jumpers and sprinters but at time like before a race I'll have one of the distance runners run a couple laps around the track with me, I also get to work ... And this year it's awesome having the multi with Liam and Garrett being by my side, last year was kind of void with not having someone within that department but ... Yeah, so it's pretty cool because I get to interact with the entire team and I think a lot of people don't. And I also just like ... You gain a lot more admiration for what they're doing and the preparation they have to put into being really good at an event because it's easy for me to like look at an event and be like I'm going to do well in this event but I see how hard these guys work at these individual events and even the girls, so it's pretty and awesome experience to be part of.

Aaron: For sure Brendan Donahue All-New England in the Heptathlon thanks so much for joining us on the Bobcast.

Brendan: Absolutely, thanks for having me.

Aaron: In women’s track and field, senior captain Ayden Eickhoff bettered her personal record in the mile by more than five seconds, good for a second-place finish at New Englands. Eickhoff is the second-fastest miler in Bates history and is currently ranked seventh in the country. First-year Elise Lambert also made a big splash, becoming the ninth-fastest 800-meter runner in the country -- two spots behind Eickhoff. The Bobcats placed 10th as a team at New Englands and look to have a strong contingent prepared to compete at the NCAA Championships.

Aaron: Bates track and field athletes who hope to qualify for NCAAs will get one more shot this Saturday at Tufts.

Aaron: The skiing teams hosted the Bates Carnival over the weekend, which doubled this year as the NCAA East Regional Championships. Bates finished 7th out of 14 teams overall, the Bobcats’ best finish in a carnival this season. We will have more skiing coverage next week when we chat with Griffin Mueller and Kaelyn Woods, the Bobcats who were again selected on Tuesday to compete at the NCAA Championships.

Aaron: We’ll also recap the first NESCAC games of the season for the lacrosse teams. Both the women and the men take on Middlebury this Saturday, with the men hosting the Panthers at 1pm. Select Bates squash players compete at individual nationals this week and the tennis teams welcome Mount Holyoke, Wheaton and Brandeis to Merrill Gym. Find the complete schedule at and we’ll recap it all, next time, on the Bates Bobcast!