Bates Bobcast Episode 154: Previewing the 2019 Head of the Charles Regatta
On this week's Bobcast, we're previewing the 55th annual Head of the Charles Regatta. Plus, the field hockey and men's soccer teams won again and the tennis teams finished their fall season on a high note. All that and more, on the Bates Bobcast!
Interviews this episode:
- 1:03 -- Owen Keleher '22, Men's Soccer (Male Bobcat of the Week).
- 11:19 -- Ally Leahy '20, Field Hockey (Female Bobcat of the Week).
- 17:28 -- Delaney Mayfield '21, Volleyball.
- 24:16 -- Jacob Eisenberg '20, Men's Tennis.
- 29:15 -- Peter Steenstra, Head Coach, Rowing (Head of the Charles preview).
- 40:32 -- Malik Hall, Head Coach, Football.
Aaron: This is the Bates Bobcast! Our weekly podcast where we take a look at the week that was, in Bates athletics. My name is Aaron Morse and this week we’re previewing the 55th annual Head of the Charles Regatta. Plus, the field hockey and men’s soccer teams won again and the tennis teams finished their fall season on a high note. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast!
Aaron: After a tough loss Saturday at Wesleyan, the women’s soccer team bounced back with a 3-1 home victory over UMaine-Farmington on Sunday. Sarah DiPillo, Riley Turcotte and Elizabeth Patrick all scored in the win.
Aaron: And the men’s soccer team is ranked fourth in New England after a 1-0 shutout of Wesleyan on Saturday and the Bobcats are receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches national poll with an overall record of 8-2-1 entering this week’s action. Sophomore midfielder Owen Keleher scored the game-winner on Saturday, propelling Bates to its best start since 2004. And the transfer from Knox College is our Male Bobcat of the Week!
Owen: I first came in touch with Coach Sheikh my senior year of high school when he was still at Knox. At the time, that was the best option for me. Shortly before I showed up for my freshman season, I learned that he was coming to Bates. It was a funny coincidence because my sister goes to school here as well, so it was in the back of mind throughout my first year that if this doesn't work out, being able to go to a great school in Maine would be a great second option.
Owen: Luckily, I was able to get in and I'm having a great time here so far. It's been great reconnecting with Coach Sheikh. He's a great coach. I love playing for him.
Aaron: What's that process like... to execute a transfer... for people who don't know in terms of, on your end, what you had to do to show Bates that you were wanting to come to this school from another college?
Owen: It's a lot of work, work you hope not to have to do after you graduate from high school, but also extremely worth it once you do get in and enjoy yourself much more at the new school. I did definitely have some help from outside my high school. My assistant soccer coach who was also my college advisor went to school here, played on soccer, worked for admissions office. Same for my English teacher in high school.
Owen: I had quite a few people helping me: my sister, coach. It was a process, but the second I stepped on campus it was great to be here and I haven't really thought about the hours of work I put into my essay and whatnot.
Aaron: Excellent. You obviously got a lot of playing time right away here in the midfield, and you've probably had more responsibilities than you thought, with Peder Bakken being out for so long with the injury. So what's that been like, because he's a captain and you're basically in his position at this point?
Owen: It's crazy, because Peder Bakken was the big name... carried the team heavily... and to think that we're doing what we've been doing and being so successful without one of our best players is exciting for when he does come back.
Owen: For me, he's always on the sidelines during practice putting his arm around me, giving me tips. He's still extremely present, just not the field with us. For me, it just means stepping up a bit more. Same with Freddie, Alex, a bunch of other players in midfield that haven't missed a beat and have stepped into that role of missing a captain out on the field. I think as a team we've done an incredibly good job of rolling with the punches.
Aaron: Great. Take us through your goal against the Wesleyan Cardinals there.
Owen: They had a free kick at the top of our box. Defensively, I stepped in the way of it, bounced off my foot and cleared the box from up to Alec, who headed for Ciaran, and then he found me sprinting down the field. I got a good first touch past the defender and then went for the cheeky finish. It was a high risk, high reward, but luckily it paid off. And then the feeling in the corner, the whole bench stormed... you can't see it in the video... down and I'm pretty sure some of the coaches were in there.
Owen: It was a great feeling to finally get that goal.
Aaron: I've talked to some other guys about this, but it just seems like this year's team has so much confidence in everyone's ability to beat anybody, it seems like. Is that what you see?
Owen: Definitely. I think having so many new guys, the roof is so high for us. We have so much potential and everyone is bought into the program, from the seniors who have been through the battles and want to go out on a high note, to the freshmen who want to make history and put Bates on a national stage. Every win is a train that we've got to keep going, and the positivity and the talent and the motivation and the coaches and everything is there, all the way down to support from outside. I was just texting my grandpa today. Just lots of positive people in this program. I think we have a lot of potential.
Aaron: In terms of the upcoming schedule, you have a game... we're talking on Tuesday... tonight, you have a game on Garcelon, non-conference game. And you have some big ones coming up: the likes of Amherst and Williams, I think, before them up ahead. What are your thoughts on the next few opponents here to close out the regular season before playoff time?
Owen: First of all, it's exciting to know that no matter what happens we will be in the playoffs, so we at least give ourselves a chance. I think in everyone's minds, at least two... if not three... of those last conference games are out there for the taking, knowing that if we clear out our schedule we'll definitely be in the national tournament looking at the top two, top three finish in the NESCAC. But definitely knowing that we have to get the job done, we can't... Our goals are incredibly high. We're not settling at all.
Aaron: Last year I know Colby, as the eighth seed, ending up winning the NESCAC tournament, but you were talking about the possibility of being an at large even if the team doesn't win the conference tournament if you have a good enough record, right?
Owen: Definitely. I think that's huge, especially in such a powerful conference, the NESCAC. In a tournament like that, anything can happen. You can play Tufts and say you manage to beat them and go against the number two... There are just so many good teams within the tournament that if you can manage to get in that at large bid it would be huge.
Aaron: Have you always been a midfielder since you've been playing soccer?
Owen: Mostly. I've bounced around a bit, but I think midfield is where I feel the most comfortable.
Aaron: You touched on the goal you scored. You had to do something on defense first and then go coast to coast with no break.
Owen: Yeah. Coach Sheikh has been forcing me to make some more runs for it. I like to sit in and collect the ball but he's been saying, "Owen, you've got to get up. Got to get up." He was definitely right on that one.
Aaron: I've seen you play. At least earlier in the year, it was more of a distributor-type thing. You were looking to get the ball up ahead for some of the forwards, but he wants to be a bit more aggressive on the attack, perhaps?
Owen: Definitely. It just shows that we have so many good players in different parts of the field that our attack can come from anywhere.
Aaron: A bit about your background: how did you start playing soccer seriously? I know a lot of kids in America play soccer when they're young, but when did it get serious for you?
Owen: I think probably five or six I made the selection team, travel team, and that started... My dad had played soccer growing up. Kind of like a lot of kids, it was just try it out, but I loved it since I was little. Then when I was eight I moved to the Netherlands for eight years. I played a ton of soccer there.
Aaron: For how many years?
Owen: For eight years.
Aaron: For eight years you were in the Netherlands?
Owen: Yes sir.
Aaron: Tell us about that experience.
Owen: It was great. My parents wanted to give me and my siblings a bit of a different culture, learn a different language. We went over there with the plan of staying for a year and years went by. Before we knew we had been there for eight and it was great. We biked everywhere. Just the amount soccer I played with buddies and club teams and everything, yeah. I get some nice compliments: "I can see you're European more than an American." I'm not sure how true that is.
Aaron: Because soccer is huge there, right?
Owen: It was definitely fun to experience that, just the passion for the sport, and I think that rubbed off on me quite a bit.
Aaron: Did you end up becoming a fan of European teams in that process?
Owen: Mm-hmm (affirmative). During the time that I was there, the Netherlands had two really good World Cup wins, so it was super exciting to watch that and see them win throughout the World Cup. Everyone was celebrating on the streets. Yeah, definitely.
Aaron: Peder was talking about how he played overseas this past off-season. He said the style there is so different. Have you noticed that also?
Owen: Definitely. I'd say it's a prettier soccer. Especially in NESCAC, it's a lot more athleticism that is prioritized. I think Coach Sheikh also wants to have a bit more of the European prettier soccer and move away from just big athletic players.
Aaron: You have those as well, though. Certainly on this team it seems like you have a good mix.
Owen: We have a great mix.
Aaron: I know Jacob Iwowo, he's from overseas as well: England. What's that like to have another guy who's played in Europe like you have?
Owen: It's good. He knows so much about the sport. The amount of times he pulled me over and explained something to me that I hadn't really thought about... It's great to have a kid like that on the team that sees the sport on a whole different level.
Aaron: Any other thoughts on the season so far for the team and how it's gone?
Owen: It's very exciting. Last year, Knox College made it to the NCAA tournament. I'd love to go back.
Owen: It's pretty crazy. I was talking to coach during I.D. camp on Sunday and both of us made the realization that this is a team that could in fact win a national championship, whether it's this year or next year or my senior year. It's just exciting to be a part of a program where that's... Every team talks about that, but to be on a team where everyone knows that it's a legitimate possibility is a pretty exciting thing. I think that as our talent gets better and we continue to grow as a team with some of the new guys playing that there really is an extremely high ceiling for us that we're all wanting to go touch.
Aaron: Sounds good. Everyone's very excited around campus. Crowd support has been great this year, it seems like. Excited for the rest of the year.
Aaron: Owen Keleher, our Male Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.
Owen: Terrific. Thank you.
Aaron: The No. 15 nationally ranked Bates field hockey team is off it its best start since 1999 after a 2-1 victory over Wesleyan on Saturday. Bates is 7-3 overall on the season and senior forward Ally Leahy is back after missing more than a year due to injury. She scored her first goal since September 2017 last week and she is our Female Bobcat of the Week!
Ally: It's been awesome. It was a long recovery, but definitely had great support from my teammates and coaches, which helped me get here. And my family.
Aaron: What was the biggest key in recovery? What were you doing to get back there as quickly as you could?
Ally: Just listening to what my trainers and my physical therapists were saying and doing as much as I can.
Aaron: Last year, not being able to play, was that frustrating? What was that experience like? I assume you were watching all the games and everything.
Ally: It was frustrating, but it was nice that I still had a role on the team, to be there encouraging everyone and helping them through the season as well.
Aaron: Take us through your goal against Wesleyan.
Ally: I think Vic from the midfield passed it up from far out of the circle and I was able to just tip it in.
Aaron: Seems like a lot of field hockey goals are all about being in the right place at the right time with the stick. Is that fair to say?
Aaron: What's made this year's team so good, in your opinion? The team really seems like it's clicking on all cylinders.
Ally: We did a lot of work in the off-season on that. We read a few books as a team that I think helped us a lot with team vibes and everything that I think helps and transfers onto the field.
Aaron: As a senior now, how have you seen your field hockey game grow? Obviously you played a lot during your first two seasons and everything.
Ally: I think that a piece is confidence on the field and knowing your teammates: knowing how each person plays in the midfield, passing it up where you think it will go, and knowing a lot more now.
Aaron: Can you kind of anticipate what some of your teammates that you've played with for quite a bit are going to do?
Ally: Definitely. That's one thing we're working on too, is knowing when someone's going to hit a big ball in or someone's going to pass it into the pocket and different things like that.
Aaron: A bit about your background: growing up, when do you start playing field hockey? What was that process like getting into the sport?
Ally: I started playing field hockey when I was sixth grade, I think. All of my cousins have played. I've watched and grown up loving the sport.
Aaron: What made you decide you wanted to come to Bates?
Ally: I met Dani a while ago in my high school career and really liked her and when I visited I loved the community and everyone was so nice and willing to help and be there for each other.
Aaron: Was there a point in high school where you were thinking, "Oh, I can play in college, probably"?
Ally: I think so, when I joined a club team and had my coach encouraging us to get recruited and everything and coming to different events at different colleges helped, yeah.
Aaron: Academically, as a senior, what have you been studying? What are you majoring in?
Ally: I'm an art history major planning on going to grad school for architecture.
Aaron: Nice. Have you always wanted to be an architect?
Ally: I've always been interested in graphic design, architecture, drawings like that. So yes.
Aaron: What's that process like, looking at grad schools at this point?
Ally: It's kind of intense and stressful. I think I might take a break before going back to school so I have some time to process.
Aaron: Certainly. So these next few games what are some goals of yours you'ved developed after being away for a while in terms of on the field and whatnot.
Ally: Being able to make those opportunities for myself and for my teammates for us to keep getting better every single day and keep winning these games.
Aaron: What's your role... and obviously you're at a forward position... but what do you see your role as in terms of your chemistry with some of your fellow forwards?
Ally: A lot of it is just movement in the circle: not being too crowded, not being on each other's toes, and just constantly communicating about where you're going.
Aaron: Are you involved in the penalty corners?
Ally: I usually go to post on penalty corners, so you have to be ready in that position.
Aaron: For those who don't know, explain what going to post means for a penalty corner.
Ally: You run in to one of the posts on the net and usually get a tip from there and prevent it from going out of bounds.
Aaron: There's a lot chaos sometimes on penalty corners, because the defensive team they're extra focused, right?
Ally: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It gets pretty crowded in there so you have to be constantly moving and getting in front of your defender.
Aaron: What's it been like going toe to toe with Middlebury earlier... that one-nothing game... and Bowdoin was so close. You've got some big wins. You've shown, the team, you can play with anyone, it seems like, and the results have shown hasn't it?
Ally: Yeah, it's really awesome to see, although it can be frustrating at times losing those games by one goal, but it shows that we can stay with those teams. We can beat the best teams in the country and we can stick with them.
Aaron: How well do you get to know these opposing teams throughout the years and everything in terms of who they have?
Ally: You really get to know them. We study film on them. We know how they play. We know their players. We know who graduates. We know who to look for, which in a way is definitely good to know.
Aaron: You have Williams coming up, not your next game but soon. They're having a pretty good year also. What did you notice about them through the years?
Ally: They're definitely a physical team, I would say. We have to be good with possessing the ball, because they'll get away with a lot of physical things.
Aaron: Anything Coach Ryder-Kogut has been talking about what she wants to see from the team down the stretch?
Ally: We have a couple of field turf games coming up instead of AstroTurf, so we're trying to stick to our passing game and not dribbling and being able to beat those opponents that practice in that field every day, where we don't.
Aaron: Field turf, much slower, I understand.
Ally: Yeah, much slower.
Aaron: From your perspective, what changes things for you there?
Ally: I have to be ready for the through balls up the sideline rather than dribbling, because the dribbling game doesn't work on field turf.
Aaron: Gotcha. Any other thoughts on the season so far and how satisfying it is to be back on the field?
Ally: It's amazing. We're having a great time. I'm loving it.
Aaron: Sounds good. Ally Leahy. Female Bobcat of the week. Thanks so much.
Ally: Thank you.
Aaron: The volleyball team sports an overall record of 11-6 on the season after the Bobcats split a pair of matches last week, sweeping Hamilton 3-0 on Friday before losing a 3-2 heartbreaker to Williams on Saturday. Junior Delaney Mayfield had a monster game against the Ephs, tallying a career-high 14 kills.
Aaron: Talking some volleyball on the Bobcast with Delaney Mayfield of the Bobcats. Delaney, a weekend where you swept Hamilton had a five-set heartbreaker against Williams. There's been some five-set heartbreakers this year. What's the team's been talking about like right now trying to finish off those really tight matches?
Delaney: We've been pretty frustrated because we haven't been able to finish a five set match yet this year, and this weekend was the closest we got. It was really great in the way that we had the hope and were almost there, but I think we realize that we have a lot we need to work on, mostly mentally and just getting there and having that toughness.
Aaron: You personally had a huge match against Williams. What was clicking for you out there?
Delaney: Honestly, the setters and timing. I was a right side the last two years. I used to play middle in high school and club, but it's been an adjustment so far. I feel like now that we're in the middle of the season finally everything is clicking together.
Aaron: So you're a middle hitter this year along with Angel Echipue. How's that going in terms of rotating in and out and whatnot?
Delaney: It's been great. The one bummer is that we only have us two, and that's a really dangerous game to play in volleyball because if one of us gets hurt there's not anyone else that can go in. It's been a bit of pressure in that aspect of staying healthy and both of us have a lot of past injuries, but it's been really fun to be back in the middle.
Aaron: You mentioned the adjustment it takes. What are some major adjustments specifically moving from opposite right side there to the middle spot?
Delaney: Main thing is blocking. Middle blocker is in the name and you block a lot more and it's faster. Instead of just being right side where you're only blocking one hitter, middle you're blocking everyone. Reading the setter has been something I've had to really adjust to. Being able to read them quickly enough, that's been the biggest thing, because when it comes to hitting I've always preferred faster sets and quicker hits. That part has been relatively easy, it's just the blocks...
Aaron: You touched on the setters. You've got two really good ones, don't you? Julia and Emma? What are they like out there on the court?
Delaney: They're great. It's been awesome. It's impressive how Emma has just come out as a freshman and you would not know the difference between a senior and a freshman. They both have the seriousness and the capability and I trust them both 100%.
Aaron: Terrific. Going back to when you were growing up, when did you start playing volleyball? You mentioned you were very active with it in high school, but even before that I assume?
Delaney: Yeah. I actually started in fifth grade. Volleyball is very big in California. I did club until senior year of high school. Then we had volleyball also in middle school. I've been playing it, it feels like, my whole life. And also beach in the summers.
Aaron: I was going to say, California, I mean, are you just playing outside all the time or is it mostly in the gym still?
Delaney: It's mainly in the gym and I prefer indoors, but during the summer there are always different tournaments where you can do beach and we always do it, but since it's two people it's a very different style, and having grown up as a middle hitter, that position doesn't really exist in beach. So I didn't always like it as much but it's still really fun.
Aaron: So you grew up in California. We've got a number of Californians on the Bates team. How did you decide to come out to Lewiston, Maine, for college?
Delaney: I always wanted seasons because where I live it's 75 and sunny, which I can't complain, but I wanted to have something different. For particularly coming to Bates, honestly, I just came here and loved it. Maine, surprisingly, reminds me a lot of California in that it's beautiful, outdoorsy, and everyone is really nice, which is awesome. A lot of it was the team. I was looking at other NESCAC schools, but the team at Bates stood out the most.
Aaron: Since you're a junior, did you know Taylor Stafford Smith... she's from California... growing up?
Delaney: I didn't know her, but one of her best friends is one of my good friends growing up, because our moms went to high school. Then Ruby, she knew people from my high school because I went to a boarding school. Once I got here everyone always connects in some way.
Aaron: Terrific. This season, obviously, the 8-0 start, really fast start, coming to NESCAC play. What's the big adjustments the team has to make from those non-conference matches into the heart of conference play?
Delaney: Just going and playing our game. A lot of times when you focus on who's on the other side of the court... and our coaches talk about that specifically... we get in our heads. We know how to play and we just need to play. Coming up this weekend we have a tournament where it's non-NESCAC, which I think will be good because there's no pressure of getting those NESCAC wins for playoffs and just focusing on doing what we know how to do. Then when it comes to Tufts and Bowdoin, just putting all of our effort in, because those would be huge wins.
Aaron: I know the team has beaten Bowdoin before but it happened to be a non-conference match, but you have beaten Bowdoin before so you know you can do it.
Delaney: Yeah. 100%. This year is a really good shot because all around in the conference people are winning and losing unexpectedly, so I think we have a really good shot with Bowdoin. Tufts is, I believe, undefeated, so that would be hard but it's totally possible.
Aaron: It's a great measuring stick to see where you're at.
Aaron: You mentioned the position switch. How else have you seen your game grow since you arrived here from high school in college over these past couple of seasons?
Delaney: One of the main things is learning the same teams. In high school, even though you played the same teams, you didn't notice it as much, whereas here you notice, "She's now a junior. I remember how she hits," and learning how players play and adapting to that, because we watch them and we'll see different things. I think it's really important to understand the players on the other side of the court, because once in a while if they're going to tip knowing and not letting them beat you a game just tipping and adjusting to that.
Aaron: As a junior, what are studying here at Bates?
Delaney: I'm a sociology major.
Aaron: And what prompted you to want to major in sociology?
Delaney: I think one of the impacts was my sister. She did it and I saw how much of a spectrum it gives you, because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and sociology opens up a lot of doors. That was one of the main reasons why I want to do it. Then, I love every professor I've had, so that encouraged me to continue to do it.
Aaron: What are your thoughts on the season so far and what you're most looking forward to down this stretch? We touched on some of the tough opponents coming up.
Delaney: I'm most excited for our Tufts-Bowdoin weekend, because I think that will be really telling. I think we have so much potential, it's just whether we can execute. I'm really excited to see how our team does specifically against Bowdoin because I believe that we have the capability of beating them. Overall, I'm most excited for the tournament, because that's where it comes down to... because Amherst we could've beaten. We could've beat Williams. We could've beat Midd, I want to see if we actually can beat them.
Aaron: Delaney Mayfield, thanks so much for joining us on the Bobcast. Appreciate it.
Delaney: Thank you.
Aaron: The tennis teams both defeated NCAA Division II opponent Franklin Pierce on Sunday, with the women winning 8-1 and the men winning 7-2. On the men’s side, senior Jacob Eisenberg won at No. 3 doubles and No. 4 singles. And his singles match proved to be quite the battle. He fell in a tiebreaker in the first set, then won a tiebreaker in the second set. In the third set, Eisenberg won 10-8 in a match that took four and a half hours.
Aaron: Talking some men's tennis on the Bobcast with Jacob Eisenberg. Jacob, as a senior, what's it like seeing the influx of talent coming in and giving this team so much depth it seems like this fall?
Jacob: Yeah, it's very exciting. Going in, we didn't really know what to expect with these freshmen. They seem to care a lot and be very talented. It's something that we're really excited about. They're pushing themselves but they're also making us push even harder. We're excited and I think it's going to be a good season.
Aaron: What people don't see is that in practice you have go up against these guys to fight for seeding.
Jacob: Exactly. That's always the hardest part: when you're the older one and you're playing against people... these young players... who have nothing to lose and they're really talented. It definitely puts more pressure on you and makes it tougher.
Aaron: So division two opponent Franklin Pierce. Team got the win. Only dual match of the fall. And you had a very long match. Take us through that battle and some tiebreakers and whatnot.
Jacob: It was a long one. One thing that was important for me was maintaining my composure. My opponent liked to play consistently and wanted to have those long rallies, and it's something that I like to do myself, so for me it was staying mentally strong the whole time and ultimately making one more ball at the end.
Aaron: It's a battle of wills in terms of who's going to make the first mistake?
Jacob: Exactly. Waiting and finding the right time to be aggressive and not going for too much and feeling like you need to be impatient.
Aaron: Were you guys outdoors this weekend?
Jacob: We were outdoors.
Aaron: What's it like playing outdoors? It's a beautiful facility. I know elements can come into play sometimes.
Jacob: It's a lot of fun. We don't get the opportunity to do it that much given that we're in Maine. It was a really cool environment, having the girls playing on the other side and then us in a row and having my teammates cheer me on and cheer everyone else on, it was a fun atmosphere.
Aaron: As a senior, how have you seen your game grow since you first stepped on campus?
Jacob: The most important thing is that I've become a lot stronger mentally. I've learned to be smart on the court and strategy and that's something that Coach Gastonguay has really taught. Also just playing for my teammates. When you're growing up, it's more individual, but this is a team. It's my favorite part of it. When people are cheering you on and you're cheering them on, it's what creates a strong, cohesive unit and it's my favorite part of college tennis for sure.
Aaron: I know last year coach talked about how there were a lot of injuries on the team so guys had to step up. You're one of the ones who had to try to step up. What was that experience like, filling a higher spot than you might've been ready for?
Jacob: It was very difficult: something I might not have been totally prepared for, but I think that I rose to the occasion and I worked really hard to fill in that spot. Obviously it was difficult but we tried to make the most of it.
Aaron: Now you're ready for anything as a senior.
Jacob: Exactly. There's definitely a lot to play for this year. I'm excited for it. I think we're going to be strong.
Aaron: Take us back to when you were looking for colleges in high school. What stood about Bates to you?
Jacob: The one thing that stood out a lot to me was the way that players developed on the tennis team here. I noticed that they may not have been getting the best players. Many were good, but there were some who got a lot better as the years went on. Ben Rosen is a great example. I kind of looked at that and I wanted to try to be just like him and be similar in that sense. So that's something that really stuck out to me.
Jacob: Obviously, academics is really important as well. The combination of a good academics school and a good and growing tennis team is what really excited me.
Aaron: You're an ITA Scholar Athlete. NESCAC All-Academic. What are you studying here at Bates?
Jacob: I'm studying economics and minoring in philosophy.
Aaron: What put you on that path?
Jacob: Economics, I thought it was a good challenge. I didn't know what I wanted to do. Philosophy stuck out to me. I found it interesting. It was something that, growing up, I learned nothing about. I didn't know anything. I took one class and I found it quite intriguing, so I want to keep doing it.
Aaron: Of course the classic trying to balance the academics and the athletics... What's your approach to it?
Jacob: One thing that I've gotten a lot better at is time management. It's difficult, but I put in 100% effort on the court and in the books. It's just giving my full effort, really.
Aaron: Any other thoughts on the match this past weekend and how it gives you some momentum into the winter months where you're not necessarily in season yet?
Jacob: I think we played a team that we knew nothing about and we didn't know whether they were going to be good or not. I think they were a lot better than we anticipated. I think it shows that a lot of us are strong mentally and know how to rise to the occasion. That's really what excites me the most, that strong mentality and attitude.
Aaron: Jacob Eisenberg, thanks so much.
Jacob: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Aaron: The Bates women’s rowing team competes to win its third straight collegiate eights race at the 55th annual Head of the Charles Regatta this Sunday. Meanwhile the men’s team looks to improve on its 22nd place showing from last season. Head Coach Peter Steenstra previews the action.
Peter: The depth of the team is a big piece of the puzzle. No matter what, we usually have key people abroad. When we can have two or three eights worth of people that are still producing top 10 or, in last year's case, a first and 11th place finish, knowing that we're going into the third varsity eight to fill some of those seats, that's obviously a good sign that the depth of the team is very good, very competitive. When it comes to making that first eight, we can usually make that boat pretty quickly. They've had a couple of good runs down the course, which is key. Obviously, the coxswain is a big piece of that puzzle. Once the coxswain is able to find a good line and get down the course as simply as possible... in the most boring fashion possible... usually the result is pretty good.
Aaron: For those who don't know, for this type of race there are some turns that need to be made unlike in the 2K races. From a coxswain's perspective, Seshan has a lot of experience with this program. Sobolewski, a first-year, tell us about her and her coming to coxswain the 2V for the women.
Peter: She's coming in with some experience both as a rower as well as a bit of a coxswain. I think it's safe to say that the biggest part of the job as a coxswain is the mush between the ears. There's no question that Bella is a very intelligent person and very smart. She knows how to read her athletes well. She steers just as well as anyone else. It's being able to anticipate what's going to happen 500 meters away, or being able to have eyes in the back of your head and see what's coming up behind you, if there is something back there, and making sure that you're planning ahead of time and putting your boat in the right spot to make sure that you're giving your crew the best advantage possible.
Aaron: The race pace must be totally different though from what they normally do, or no?
Peter: It used to be that way. Race pace in the spring is somewhere in the mid 30s and we've been racing right around 34, 35, for the spring racing. Unfortunately for anyone who's racing these days, if you want to do well at the Charles, you better be essentially doing a sprinting pace for three and a half miles.
Aaron: So there's no conserving any energy.
Peter: There's none of that. Our guys are going into this planning fully on being 34, 35, having an extra gear in case they need to get through somebody in a short period of time. The women are planning on doing this at about a 33, 34, same thing. That's essentially our sprinting pace. That's the way they're looking at it.
Aaron: That's why the training doesn't change that much from your perspective.
Peter: All of our training is meant for the spring anyway. This is just a break from the fall training, is really how all of these head races even came about.
Aaron: The rowers must embrace though, because huge crowds and it's pretty fun out there.
Peter: It's a big crowd. It's a huge event. We're going to have really great weather this weekend, which makes it that much more pleasant to go and watch and be a part of. There's tents and whatnot along both sides. Lots of free junk available. People want to go to the vendor tents and find some things. It's the festival of rowing. It marks the end of the year for our sports.
Aaron: How's the men's team shaping up this year, because last year... Don't want to ever rebuilding... Had a lot of people graduate from the previous year, right?
Peter: I would not call it a rebuilding, and I don't know what else to call it except for the fact that Mitch brought in a huge class. It's a very competitive group of guys. They come to us with a wide array of skills and sizes and abilities, but they've been instrumental in the boats quite a bit as it is. We've got one first-year who's in the varsity eight: goes by Brennan, but it's Timothy Bates. He's a great big strong guy and he does really well and has made some improvements. Then we had to figure out a four on the men's side as a second priority, which is tough to do when you've got two or three actual boats that we can train in and practice in and make comparisons in, but we also have over three eights worth of guys to get into that boat. There's varied level playing field and skill level that makes up the whole group.
Peter: The guys started to dub this fall as fours wars because Mitch and I were really going back and forth with a lot of different people in the boats and different combinations and using weekly training pieces that they're doing to give us some supporting evidence, but then getting them into fours and various combinations and just try to see what comes out on top: trying to figure out something that can consistently perform as the top four guys. It was harder than we anticipated.
Peter: The rowers did a really good job making our job hard, which is what they should be doing. We had guys who came in and were very different rowers three weeks in than when they first arrived, and some of the upperclassmen who came in with one set of hopes for the Charles boat had to realign themselves and figure out that this is a much more competitive group than they were expecting.
Aaron: For the men you have an eight and a four whereas women you have two eights and a four.
Peter: The way that things work with the Charles, you kind of apply to get in, because you have to finish the top half of the group and neither of the two entries finished in the top half last year, so we're quite happy to have even the eight and the four that we do have, but that would explain why.
Aaron: Because last year, Aidan had to step in at the last minute as a coxswain for the 1V?
Peter: Yup. He jumped right in there. He jumped in head first, there's no doubt about that. It wasn't an easy run down the course and there was a lot of activity around him, so he had to do... there's no way for us to simulate it at home. You can say that he had a rough experience, but he is now very battle-tested. He's ready to make this second run now.
Aaron: Any difference coxing a four versus an eight for him, because he was an eight last year?
Peter: It's a big difference because you sit in the front instead of the back. You have a better view of what's coming up ahead of you but you have no idea what's coming up behind you. He's going to have to communicate with the bow seat, who sits right behind him. The bow seat will let him know if someone is coming up or whatever it might be.
Peter: For the most part, it's like sitting in an Indy car. He's lying down. He's maybe eight inches off the water's surface. He can just put the bow ball right where he wants it to be. Hopefully he's only looking to pass people instead of worried about what's behind.
Aaron: You mentioned a big first-year class is coming in. Just looking at the roster for both these teams, women and men, are these the biggest rosters you've had yet? It seems like it from my perspective.
Peter: Yeah. We're over five eights deep on the women's side and we're over four eights deep on the men's side and we've never had four eights on the men's side. It's pretty safe to say this is the biggest roster that we've ever had. It's 87 total if you include the people that are abroad.
Aaron: Is that fun as a coaching staff or is that more challenging?
Peter: We're spread thin, no doubt about it. It's part of what the recruited athlete buys into here. They know that even on the best day they only get half of me because I'm split between two teams. Luckily Mitch and Haiey are... at this point... experienced coaches and they can handle a larger group on the water. Some young coaches or people who are new to coaching really should only have one boat that they have to oversee, but both Mitch and Haley can handle three eights or more, whatever they need to deal.
Aaron: Right when I came in I saw you doing some film study with one of your men's rowers. How does that work? Do you typically tell them, "Hey, you need to come and look over this with me?" Or do they come to you?
Peter: I think they've learned that I'm not going to chase them around. If they want to come and get some video, we've got the TV going and we've got the iPads. Mitch and Haley have done a lot of the video review as well. But if you're in one of the top two boats, it's probably best to come see me.
Aaron: So after the Head of the Charles, which is this Sunday, how does fall training progress? At some point, you can't be on the river any more I'd imagine.
Peter: Unfortunately, we're done, so October 26. Well, it's the CBB after the Charles. We have our scrimmage that we do with Colby and Bowdoin. So we have that week after the Charles and then we're done. We're not allowed to practice any more. The boats get winterized and then outboard engines get winterized. The hardest part about it is that November tends to be beautiful weather and the river is flat and calm and gorgeous and we can't row. The team goes into their off-season training phase. Either they're training to be a good athlete come March or they're not. Totally up to them.
Aaron: And then the women going for a three-peat here, that's got to be pretty rare at the Charles. That seems like it's been different champions at different points.
Peter: We would be the first ones to do it in our event, the collegiate eights.
Aaron: In the collegiate eights, okay.
I haven't done enough research to look around...
Peter: I know that the Virginia men have won the fours at least three times in a row, maybe four times, but other than that I don't know of other records like that.
Aaron: Coach, any other thoughts on the upcoming weekend?
Peter: It's looking to be nice. It's going to be good weather. I don't know. I like to sit on my typical spot. I'm not going to tell you where that is, because I don't want anyone to find me.
Aaron: Track you down, yeah.
Peter: I look forward to watching my crews come through and hopefully they're slightly ahead of whatever bow number was before them. I look forward to watching the women's 1V come through and be totally alone for an entire 5,000 meter piece.
Aaron: It’s time for the 5th quarter on the Bobcast with head football coach Malik Hall. The Bobcats fell to three-time defending NESCAC champion Trinity last Saturday by a score of 51-0. Coach Hall looks back on that game and looks ahead to this Saturday’s contest at Williams.
Aaron: Coach, looking at the box score from Saturday's game against Trinity, it seemed like the defense had a tough time getting off the field on third down. It seemed like third down the Trinity defense was able to stop you guys, and meanwhile the Trinity offense was able to convert. Did you see that as one of the bigger keys in that game?
Malik: Yeah. You got a Trinity team that's pretty loaded. Our deal was to try to make them drive the field and not give up a big hitter or home runs, and hopefully that we get them into some third downs manageable and get off the field. I think they went 10 for 16 third downs and that's way above the average we're looking for. At the same point, we got to continue to get better. Third down has been our nemesis this season on top of the big play. Unfortunately, we didn't do either this weekend, where we stopped the big play... per se... by making them put six, seven, eight play drives together, but we weren't able to take the ball when presented with the opportunity.
Malik: I know we ended up with two turnovers, but turnovers are so relative when we're stifled on offense right now. Looking at third down from our standpoint wasn't great and from our offensive standpoint wasn't great. If you look at the gameplan, we had the same amount of first downs. We converted three. Even the time of possession was close, but they moved the ball. When you're playing a game of time possession and ball security, the thought is that you're either have the ball last or stop them from scoring to win the game last, or to stop the score have the offense get it and go down and win.
Malik: We just wasn't in that position. When the game went 10-0, I thought we were in a pretty solid position. We made them kick a field goal. We did give up a touchdown in those first three series, but making Trinity kick a field goal I thought was huge, and that was the drive. Our offense had to respond, go down, get some points. If nothing else, change the field position. Not having Tyler Bridge affected our punting, which also helps change the field position.
Malik: I think we're a tale of a healthy team and a tale of a beat up team. When we're healthy, I think you see a different product. When we're not, we're really trying to stop the bleeding, unfortunately. Combining with our punting being an issue and our health being an issue, you've got a Trinity coming in who seems to have depth upon depth. It's certainly a tall order. I think it's an order that we can take on if we have the right mindset and the right tools to play from an offensive-defensive special teams standpoint. You don't have a punter, you makeshift a punter. Whenever you're makeshifting something, cross your fingers.
Malik: In that space, that's the tale of the game.
Aaron: I know part of it was because Trinity was ahead early, but it seems like there wasn't much room to run the football. You tried everyone you had, right?
Malik: It's a hard pill to swallow. More importantly, if you add into the package that we had some success with... milking the clock, getting four yards and a cloud of dust... Playing against a battle-tested Trinity team that was prepared and that preparation that they had threw us from running the ball as effective as we would like. Then when Costa comes in we want to generate some paths, but it becomes difficult when you're immediately down 17-0 in the first quarter and you only made them punt once. Our drives offensively was one, two, three, one, two, three. We had a four play drive because of a timeout.
Malik: Ultimately, if we don't move the ball, it's harder on the defense. If we can't stop people from getting a quick play, it's even harder for our offense to put the kind of game that we need to play if we go down, which is to try to match score for score until the defense can stop them. Right now, that's just not our MO or our personality. Even wanting to be spread, spread can turn into a bad situation if you don't have enough receivers or if you can't protect the Q or if you've only got one Q.
Malik: We're in a very precarious spot where we're trying to protect the team and not get guys beat up unnecessarily, but at the same time competing to win and gameplanning to win. So when you say, "How often do I want Costa to pass the ball," I would love to tell you 40. But if I throw the ball 40 times with them, will we get through the game? Will we create more turnovers? Right now we struggle protecting the quarterback. We don't have the luxury to say if something happens to our number one guy that we have a number two. We still have a freshman who's out. We're playing a full football game and gameplanning with a lot of empty spaces.
Malik: That's the biggest challenge when you're playing against a Trinity team that seems to have a guy in every spot. Even if you try to attack the weak link, how long can you go at him before he makes a play? This week was challenging, but more importantly it has to be a lesson behind this loss for our guys, because our major class won't be sophomores and freshmen forever. We only have eight seniors. We'll have about 12 juniors that have become seniors, but the bulk of our team are young guys. For those juniors and those sophomores and the freshmen who have played, you've got to pull something away to get better of off this.
Aaron: What are some points of emphasis in practice this week preparing for Williams next week?
Malik: You've got a really good Williams team. What makes Williams challenging is they're not as dynamic as Trinity per se, but they're a well-rounded group. I think they play with a different edge than Trinity may. Number three has 12 touchdowns right now in the air, which does not match up well for where our weak spot has been, our blind spot. The defensive guys have their work cut out for them. But as you flip it to the other side of the board they're giving up 10 points a game. We're averaging probably a bit over eight, give or take. The point is to try to get them past their average and keep them under their average.
Malik: We do have our work cut out for us. They're a physical team on the front five. They have about three tailbacks who are all pretty dynamic, and again you've got a quarterback who seems to never get rattled. He's a general on the field. Even when he makes his decisions to run, he hasn't taken a big hit because before they can get to him he's sliding. The yardage is not as important as his health. If you're a defensive guy, he's running around and once you get him lined up he slides. Frustration can set in on that.
Malik: Our job is to continue to stay poised regardless of what they do, continue to put forth a fighting effort to get the game in the fourth quarter, and find out if we can win a game. The game has four quarters. As we call this the fifth quarter, it's all in reflection of what we could've done different, and in some cases it's not anything different but more just better execution. As we look at this game with the score being so one sided, it's hard to find some takeaways to build on and it's also hard to evaluate a Trinity performance to who you have to play next, because they're so night-and-day different in terms of personnel, but that's our job.
Malik: That's kind of what makes football great, that the more you soak on one you can gameplan for another. For coaches, it's easier because you've got a gameplan. Getting out of your own way for what didn't work a week ago is challenging, but you have to prepare something for your guys. As a player, it's a bit more difficult because you sit on it Sunday, sit on it Monday, and Tuesday when you're back on the field you're probably still thinking about it. That speaks to the mental state of our team. I would hope that they're over it at this point. This won't be the first or the last time. We can't let Trinity beat us twice and deal with our opponent as is, not what happened last week.
Malik: I believe every team's job is to take something of what worked against you and then run it again. Some of those things we've just got to be better at and know that people are going to do it until we stop it.
Aaron: Coach Hall thank you so much.
Malik: No problem, man. It's a great day to be a Bobcat.
Aaron: The cross country teams showed off their depth by finishing first at the Saint Joseph’s Invitational on Saturday, despite resting their top seven runners. Both the women and the men head to Oberlin College this Saturday for a big Inter-Regional rumble. We’ll recap that out-of-region test, plus big games at Williams for the soccer, field hockey and football programs, next time, on the Bates Bobcast!