Bates Bobcast Episode 156: Previewing the 'Cats Carnival!
On this week's episode, we're chatting with Director of Athletics Jason Fein about the 'Cats Carnival, a special event taking place outside Garcelon Field this Saturday before the Bates football team's first-ever night home game. Plus, field hockey and men's soccer prepare for the NESCAC Championships and volleyball heads into the final weekend of the regular season looking for the program's most wins since 2003. All that and more, on the Bates Bobcast!
Interviews this episode:
- 1:05 -- Jason Fein, Bates Director of Athletics.
- 6:23 -- Grace Fitzgerald '20, Field Hockey (Female Bobcat of the Week).
- 13:00 -- Taylor Stafford-Smith '20, Volleyball.
- 17:54 --Will Anastos '23, Men's Soccer (Male Bobcat of the Week).
- 22:35 -- Mohamed Diawara '23 and Tony Hooks '23, Football.
- 34: 19 -- 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 chatting with Director of Athletics Jason Fein about the ‘Cats Carnival, a special event taking place outside Garcelon Field this Saturday before the Bates football team’s first-ever night home game. Plus, field hockey and men’s soccer prepare for the NESCAC Championships and volleyball heads into the final weekend of the regular season looking for the program’s most wins since 2003. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast!
Aaron: Before we recap the week, let’s preview the ‘Cats Carnival with Director of Athletics Jason Fein. The carnival is being organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is taking place this Saturday at 3pm on Central Ave. It is free and the public is encouraged to attend!
Aaron: Happy to have Director of Athletics Jason Fein back on the Bobcast. It's been a while, I feel like, but we're excited about the Bates Carnival coming up this Saturday before the night game against Bowdoin. Before we talk about the Carnival, the night game aspect, the first-ever home football game at night at Garcelon Field. How pumped are you?
Jason: I'm super pumped. First of all, thanks for having me back, Aaron. I think that when you don't need me to come on, that means you have a lot of other things going on, so that's great. I'm happy to just be filler when you need it.
Jason: But no, the 'Cats Carnival's going to be great. First night game at Garcelon Field. I was surprised that we hadn't actually had one, and last year, we came up with the idea to do this as a kind of home and home with Bowdoin, with their home game hosted in the first year last year. We had a little more time to prepare. We're hoping that we'll have a similar atmosphere as we had out at Bowdoin last year. Hopefully we'll have a different result, which would be great, but we really want to try and get everybody out here, celebrate not only hopefully a victory, but just the first night game at such a historic place that has been so important to the college for over 100 years.
Aaron: Certainly. And then the Carnival aspect, how'd this idea come about working with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee to make this happen?
Jason: Yeah. This was kind of a thought that I had when we came up with the night idea was how can we create an atmosphere during the day, that kind of creates a buzz that's going to lead us right into this game? Because usually, we open up the tailgate in the morning, three hours before the game, folks come out and it's an early thing, and then by 1 o'clock, we're kicked off.
Jason: This is a lot of time to kind of filter out the day and my thought was maybe we could get the community involved, maybe we can get people out. Approached Alison Montgomery, our women's basketball coach who works closely with our SAAC committee, and they loved the idea. Then we started pulling in campus partners. We started pulling in Dining, Conferences. Paige Cooke, who does our marketing, reached out to the local fire departments and police departments.
Jason: Coach Hall actually had the idea to honor the first responders: police, fire, emergency services. We personally reached out and invited all them to bring their families down. We reached out and we've got the Lewiston Fire Department bringing down a truck too so the kids can climb on the truck, touch a truck kind of thing.
Jason: And then it was just a matter of see what happens when student-athletes respond, and they responded really well with the ideas to do different booths, different stations. We're getting a bouncy house. We're going to have a really party atmosphere and music playing. Our student-athletes will have prizes to give out to kids, and we'll do pictures with the Bobcat, and face tattoos, and some games, and things like that.
Jason: It just kind of took off. And honestly, I was really, really excited that everybody, the whole community, from Facilities to Sports Info to Conferences to Security to our local first responders, really embraced the idea.
Aaron: Yeah, you touched on the community aspect of this. This is not just for the Bates community; this is for anyone in Lewiston and Auburn, Androscoggin County who wants to come out and have a family-friendly, fun time, right?
Jason: Yeah. We've done our best to try and get this out on community bulletin boards. We've sent it to the media. We've put it up in the local stores on their bulletin boards, things like that, and try and just open it up to Lewiston-Auburn community and the greater community as you mentioned, to say, "Hey, some cool things are happening here around our athletics programs at Bates. Our student-athletes are great." Highlight not only the football team, but also everything else that's going on and all of our student-athletes, obviously, that work the Carnival who will not be football players are going to be able to highlight their sports as well. So yeah, it's an exciting time.
Aaron: Certainly. Well, any other thoughts on the Carnival and what a successful Saturday would mean to you?
Jason: Well, first of all, a successful Saturday, we'd have a win for the Bobcats.
Aaron: There you go! Yeah.
Jason: So that's number one.
Aaron: Eight seniors.
Jason: Yes, exactly. We're looking forward to sending them off with a victory. Bowdoin has had a rough season as well. It's been a couple of rough years for the Maine schools in general, so I know they're going to be hungry as well, but I think our team, our coaches, our guys are ready. So certainly, that would be successful.
Jason: Other than that, we would love a great, beautiful day. Right now, the weather looks like it's going to be crisp, maybe high 40s, but sunny, which is great. I think we'll be ready to welcome folks down here and kind of showcase just the best of Bates and Bates student-athletes outside of just our football program.
Jason: We're going to open our tailgate area an extra hour earlier. Instead of three hours before, we'll open it a full four hours before. We want to encourage folks to get here early at 1:30 because at 2:00, we're going to shut down the street, we're going to turn it into a carnival, and hopefully it's going to become a tradition and mimic some of the other great traditions in college football of places that really turned the campus into a fun atmosphere on game day.
Aaron: Unlike, perhaps, other college football venues, this is all free, right?
Jason: Totally 100% free. There will be t-shirts, they'll be hats, they'll be prizes, they'll be food, they'll be popcorn and candy. It's still around Halloween, so we're kind of combining the Halloween and harvest theme here and it is absolutely free and admission to the game is free so we hope people will stick around. Kick-off is 5:30 and I think Garcelon should be rocking.
Aaron: The No. 16 nationally ranked Bates field hockey team picked up a big conference win on Senior Day, rallying to defeat No. 20 Amherst 3-2 Saturday at Campus Ave. Field. Senior captain Grace Fitzgerald was involved in all three goals. She scored the Bobcats’ first goal of the game, tying the contest at one in the first quarter. Just 50 seconds after she forced a turnover in the third quarter that led to Bates’ second goal of the afternoon, Fitzgerald inserted on a penalty corner and fellow senior captain Alexa Jurgeleit deflected a shot from first-year Paige Cote into the back of the cage, putting the Bobcats up 3-2. Bates held on to the lead from there, moving to 9-5 overall and 5-4 in NESCAC action. And Grace Fitzgerald is our Female Bobcat of the Week!
Aaron: Grace, the penalty corners this year. Last year, Emma Patterson did the inserts. This year, it's been you. What's that been like, setting people up on the penalty corner and what's the key to a successful one from your point of view?
Grace: Well, it's really important. Our coach always says that the corner begins with the insert, so it's really important to have a flat, clean pass for your teammate to receive so you can get a good shot off.
Aaron: On your goal, what'd you see on that one? Take us through it.
Grace: Paige had a perfect shot to the inside post and that's where the inserter's always supposed to be, so I was just right place, right time.
Aaron: Back and forth game there against Amherst. Take us through what that was like. They're a good team. Games every year, it seems, with them are close.
Grace: Yeah, it was really intense, and especially because it was our senior game, which was really special, and also Amherst, they're currently fighting for a spot to get into playoffs, so they had a big competitive edge on them for the game.
Aaron: What was it like beforehand with the Senior Day ceremonies and everything that you were involved with?
Grace: It was amazing. It was really nice for the team to recognize all the seniors and the work that we've put in over the past four years.
Aaron: Pretty cool to see Alexa get her, I think, first goal of the season. Second-ever, right?
Grace: Yeah, that was awesome. We were all so excited for her.
Aaron: Being one of the captains, what did you learn maybe from your experience in the past to apply this year, your second year as one of the captains?
Grace: Yeah. Well, it's awesome this year to have two co-captains. Abby and Alexa are amazing and we work really well together and we're always on the same page, so I love being captains with them.
Aaron: Take us through the play where you were able to steal that pass and set up the second goal.
Grace: Well, this year especially, we've changed our press a little bit, so we've been able to pick off so many more passes than usual on the other team's free hits. I was just right off the person in front of me's shoulder, so I was able to pick the pass off, and then all of the forwards were in the right spot, so I was just able to ping-pong the ball up there for them.
Aaron: After you get the pass away, a pretty good play there, I think Bridget Thompson was able to get her stick on it too.
Grace: Yeah, Thom was right there, so that was awesome. She relayed the ball up to Sarah and Sarah had unreal stick skills there to get around the goalie and put it in the back of the net.
Aaron: For you, I see you in the midfield there. I feel like you're kind of like the point, if you use a basketball reference, the point guard of the offense. Would you agree with that?
Grace: Yeah, I'm definitely there in the middle just to distribute the ball to the outside.
Aaron: How much do you embrace that role? It seems like you've been doing that each year here basically.
Grace: Yeah, I like it. I like it. It's nice also to be in the middle. I love to see the field from there and I can just be everywhere that I need to be all over the field and not really restricted to a side, which I like.
Aaron: Certainly. Well, as a senior, what are you studying here at Bates?
Grace: I'm actually a Chinese major.
Aaron: Okay, Chinese major. What led you to that?
Grace: I took Chinese all through high school and middle school and I started just taking here at Bates. I love the language and the culture, so just felt like the right fit.
Aaron: Have you got a chance to go to China at any point?
Grace: Yeah, I went when I was in high school and then I went two summers ago for eight weeks.
Aaron: What was the experience like?
Grace: It was awesome. Very different, they also don't know what field hockey is over there. So that was, yeah, an experience for sure.
Aaron: Not as much of a chance to play I suppose over there.
Aaron: Well, take us back growing up, when did you start playing field hockey?
Grace: I didn't actually start playing until... we didn't have like a rec league or anything in my town. So when I was in seventh grade for the modified team in middle school, I started playing.
Aaron: What did you like about the sport initially perhaps?
Grace: I don't know. I liked the pace of the game and I did play soccer when I was younger and I really didn't like it. It felt like a lot of... you didn't get as many touches on the ball. I felt like for field hockey it's more, I felt more active doing it, so I really liked it.
Aaron: Field hockey, like you can only touch it with your stick. Right?
Aaron: And there's all sorts of rules there. How long did it take you to realize what you're allowed to do and where you're not allowed to?
Grace: Oh, while also when you're younger, you always play on grass, which is super messy. So yeah, I guess easier as you go older and they start to blow the whistle, less and less of it, the level gets higher, hopefully.
Aaron: Sure. Well, as a senior now take us back though, when you're looking at colleges, what made Bates the place for you?
Grace: I know when I visited, I just loved, when I did my overnight with the team. The girls were so open and welcoming and answered all of my questions so honestly, and they were so transparent about like the chemistry on the team and I really just loved the community feeling that it had here.
Aaron: Well, and then now as a senior, if you guys, I believe if you beat Colby on Tuesday, we're talking on Monday, beat Colby on Tuesday, it'd be the most NESCAC wins for Bates field hockey since the conference became the modern era in 2000. What would that mean to you to leave that program like that?
Grace: I think it's awesome to be able to leave the program better than we started with it, especially as freshmen. It's been like a great three years in the program has definitely grown so much and this season has really been demonstrating all of the hard work that we put in.
Aaron: How have you seen yourself grow as a field hockey player over your time in college?
Grace: Well, it's definitely a lot different from high school especially playing on the surface. So yeah, it's been awesome playing at such a high level with other girls from the team, it's much more cohesive. I feel like I've become a lot more disciplined and composed as the years have gone on.
Aaron: Certainly. What were some of the points of emphasis down the stretch here from Dani and leading into the NESCAC tournament?
Grace: I think she really emphasizes, I was just playing our own game and focusing on ourselves and just having like rhythm and flow as we go.
Aaron: So the Chinese major. Going back to academics a little bit, do you have plans for like grad school or do you have an idea of what you're wanting your career to be at this point?
Grace: Oh that's a tough question.
Aaron: Yeah, we ask the hard hitting questions.
Grace: Yeah, I know. Try to figure that out myself. Yeah, I think I might want to go maybe to China next year. Maybe teach English, but also, I take a lot of science classes because I'm pre-health so I don't know if I would maybe want to go into the healthcare profession too.
Aaron: Got you. All right. Well any other thoughts on your senior season so far and how it's gone?
Grace: Yeah. I just want to thank the team for making it such a memorable season, especially for my last year and everyone has just been working so hard and been so consistent and the energy on the team is amazing. I just feel so grateful to play on the team this year.
Aaron: Awesome. Grace Fitzgerald, Female Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.
Grace: Thank you.
Aaron: The volleyball team is 16-7 overall and 4-4 in NESCAC action after a pair of 3-0 wins last week. Bates swept the University of Southern Maine on Thursday and conference foe Trinity on Saturday. Senior Taylor Stafford-Smith recorded eight kills against USM and a season-high 11 kills against the Bantams.
Aaron: Taylor Stafford-Smith with us here on the Bobcast talking some volleyball and Taylor your senior year, it started off a little rough for you personally. You were injured for the first half of the season, but you've gotten back into the rotation. How has that process gone for you?
Taylor: It's been a good thing just because I'm back and playing and it's my senior year, so I don't want to spend my last season playing volleyball off the court. But that was definitely frustrating but we have a great trainer, Ben, and he got me back into shape.
Aaron: And you're able to watch your teammates get off to the 8-0. I mean, the team has been really thriving, it seems like all season.
Taylor: Oh yeah. And honestly, that's just like such a great thing for me to just see as a senior and just to see how far the program is just becoming a better thing. Once I leave I just can't wait to watch every game on the stream because I know they're going to kill it.
Aaron: Well, speaking of being a senior, how was senior day? How'd that go? I mean obviously you led the team in kills that day. What was it like before the match?
Taylor: It was great. So we walk into the locker room and all the seniors had to like show up a little bit later because we had the locker room decorated and we had streamers on our lockers and we had, some of the girls gave us like gifts. It was just a lot because I knew how it would happen, but I didn't think it would be an emotional day. Like I'm not very emotional when it comes to that stuff, but to my surprise a day and it just... I think it hit all of us. It was just like the last point that was scored against Trinity. We were just like, "Wow, that was it." It kind of just puts everything into perspective like, don't take anything for granted, but we couldn't have gone out any any better.
Aaron: And that was you you had the last point, right?
Taylor: It was. It was funny too, because we were like in the huddle and I feel like these are the things you just don't hear with the microphone, but Julia was like to end our senior day with like that, put that one away so it felt good.
Aaron: Excellent. Well, you have some tough matches this weekend, right? You're hitting the road, Tufts and Bowdoin. You got to refocus on that.
Taylor: Well, we're so excited. I personally love the schedule because this entire season, like the game against Tufts and the game against Bowdoin. We haven't beat Tufts yet, at least like in my experience here at Bates. And so that has been definitely a motivator for me, whether if it's like during our practices or games that will like set us up for Tufts and Bowdoin, but I'm excited. I know the girls are excited, we're pumped.
Aaron: And obviously, the goal is to do damage as Melissa would say, in the NESCAC tournament. Right?
Taylor: That's the goal. Ideally, we will be going to the NCAA playoffs afterwards.
Aaron: What's it like seeing these first-years come in and some of them contributing right away? Like I know Emma has been one of the setters this year, playing a key role.
Taylor: Yeah. And Emma is killing it and she not only has the skill, but she has the confidence, which was a huge factor. I give her a major credit for that just because it can be kind of intimidating, I feel like as a freshman to still be a freshman and know like your place even though that shouldn't be a thing. And it definitely isn't a thing on our team, but I feel like that's just a stereotype and if you're a setter on the court, you need to run everything. So you need to have that confidence. And she definitely has that entire package.
Taylor: She has the skill and she has the confidence to the point where like she's telling me like where to hit sometimes, like during games, which is what every hitter wants. Emma has been great, Kate has been great, Maddie's been great, Charlotte's been great. They are really good group of girls and they're a good class. We all love them.
Aaron: Excellent. What are your thoughts on this season so far and the matches you have had here?
Taylor: So again, excited for Tufts and Bowdoin and we're just looking forward to the NESCACs. We're really excited. We can't wait. Especially for us seniors and I feel like this goes with any team. As a senior you're just wanting to end on like your strongest notes. That's something we're looking forward to.
Aaron: Excellent Taylor Stafford Smith. Thanks so much.
Taylor: Thanks Aaron.
Aaron: The soccer teams fell to Amherst on Saturday, with the women dropping their match 4-0 and the men giving the No. 1 nationally ranked Mammoths all they could handle in a 2-1 loss. First-year Will Anastos came off the bench and sparked the Bobcats, scoring his first collegiate goal on an assist from Ciaran Bardong. And Will Anastos is our Male Bobcat of the Week!
Aaron: Male Bobcat of the Week Will Anastos with us here on the Bobcast and Will, as a first-year, what was the moment like when Tyler Sheikh said, "Hey, you need to go in against the number one team in the country there on Saturday." And then you scored a goal.
Aaron: What was that whole moment like for you?
Will: It was just kind of like we're down 2-0. So I just want to go in and make a positive impact. So I'm just in there running, just putting forth a lot of effort and I just happened to be there in the right place at the right time and I scored a goal, which was very nice but ultimately we lost. It's kind of unfortunate, but it was just, I don't really know, a lot went through my head while I scored a goal, but just wanted to help the team get another goal and come back against the Amherst.
Aaron: Take us through that play and what you saw, I know Ciaran passed it to you and you made a nice trap and turned and fired there on net.
Will: Yeah. So it was just a good switch from Charlie and then Ciaran put it on good ball and it was just touch, finish, bang, bang. And meg the goalie, which was fun.
Aaron: What does that mean for people who don't know?
Will: It went between his legs, five hole.
Aaron: Okay. I saw you afterwards run up and try to grab the ball. What's with that?
Will: So we were losing 2-0. That goal made it 2-1. So there's a lot of urgency to come back and make it 2-2 and just to keep getting the next shot and get the momentum. So yeah, that was that.
Aaron: And then as a first-year, what's it been like with this fellow class because there's so many of you?
Will: Pretty large. It was like 17 first-years. It's a really good experience and we're all really like tight. So it's really fun and there's a lot of competition and it's just really great like environment and experience so far.
Aaron: What was the G rated version of what Tyler told the team at halftime?
Will: "You're working hard but it's got to be better. Pick it up. More intensity, work. You're working hard, but you can still work harder, run yourselves more, beat them to the first ball, second balls basically just outwork them more and take your chances when you have them."
Aaron: And then what was kind of the message post-game because obviously as you mentioned it was a tight 2-1 loss in the end.
Will: Post-game it was, "Well done in the second half. You picked it up, you controlled most of the game. I'm proud of the way you played the second half and made up for a lot of the first half but overall we didn't quite make it."
Aaron: What adjustments do you think are needed going into this week with the Colby game today, we're talking on a Tuesday for folks listening and then NESCAC tournament on Saturday.
Will: I think it's just go back to basics, do the simple things, right? Like check your shoulder, talk, and I think that'll be very important against Colby.
Aaron: Great. And then for you personally growing up, when did you really start seriously, playing soccer in terms of like, I can play in college.
Will: Probably in like eighth grade when I switched club teams, got a new coach and he really pushed me to be better, not just accepting mediocrity. So probably eighth grade to like junior year was really what shaped my collegiate aspirations.
Aaron: And then what made Bates the place for you?
Will: Just the community feel, like hung out with the team, got to know them, thought it was great group of guys and just really want it to be a part of it and bring this program to new heights.
Aaron: How were you first connected kind of with maybe coach Tyler?
Will: It was through my soccer coach, Andy Prosser. He reached out to Tyler and connected us and then we got to talking and eventually decided that here was the best place for me.
Aaron: Great. Then so far, you know, big adjustments for you from playing high school to play in college?
Will: Probably the intensity. It just goes up another level. Everybody's flying in everywhere and then high school you might not have seen that as much.
Aaron: Well, that Amhurst match in particular was pretty intense I feel like.
Will: Yeah, there it was challenges flying in everywhere. Ciaran almost killed a guy. It was pretty epic.
Aaron: Yeah, definitely an intense match. But coach Tyler, what is he like in terms of his style? What have you learned from him so far?
Will: He's very intense and passionate about what he does and he brings a lot of energy to the boys. Like our job is to perform and his job is to like get us up and ready for the match and put us out there to do what we do in the best way we can. So I think he's pretty good at that.
Aaron: How has the academic transition been so far studying?
Will: It's good. We have study hall every night during the week, so we're all getting through it together and if we need help with something, we can reach out to an upperclassmen or anybody who has been there and experienced what we're feeling right now. So it's going well so far.
Aaron: Great. What are your thoughts on your rookie season here at Bates?
Will: We've got a long way to go. If we go all the way, we have 10 more games, so we're almost just basically halfway through the season.
Aaron: There you go. Will Anastos, Male Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.
Will: Thank you very much.
Aaron: The football team lost a tight 23-20 contest at Colby on Saturday. Down 23-0, the Bobcats rallied, scoring a touchdown at the end of the first half on a 47-yard strike from junior quarterback Brendan Costa to sophomore Jackson Hayes. Junior Liam Spillane added a one-yard touchdown run and first-year Mohamed Dia-wara caught his first career touchdown pass. Bates actually nearly took the lead late in the fourth quarter on a pass from Costa to sophomore Stephen Brackett. But the touchdown got called back on a holding penalty. Despite the loss, the future appears bright, with Diawara and first-year Tony Hooks shining on offense and defense respectively. Hooks recorded a game-high 13 tackles.
Aaron: Couple of first-years with us here on the Bobcast talking some Bates football. We've got Mohamed Diawara and Tony Hooks. Mohamed let's start with you. Wide receiver, first career touchdown there against Colby. Take us through the play.
Mohamed: Coach called the, it's like a sprint out pass kind of and I motioned in the corner, pressed up on the shorter receiver and I ran to the corner and Costa threw it up and I went to go get it. It was like they put me in a position to succeed and I wouldn't be able to do things like that if the coach didn't trust me and if the o-line didn't block and Costa being a quarterback, he is trusting me to make the catch.
Aaron: Yeah. As a wide receiver, how have you worked this year developing chemistry with Costa throughout the season?
Mohamed: Costa is like one of the guys that's like constantly on top of me. Like we go watch film together. Every week we're watching film together, talking about different ways that I can run routes and communications on timing and working on chemistry, just trying to get better overall.
Aaron: Excellent. And Tony, you had a career-high in tackles for you there against Colby, the ball just coming your way and you're seeing the guys and hitting them.
Tony: Yeah. Well that's pretty much it. My D-line definitely did a good job of just staying in front of the guys and making sure I was free to run, free to roam and they would meet those players so if it wasn't for the D-line, I wouldn't be able to do that. I want to thank the seniors in the locker room like Conner Suraci, Pete Daley and Zach Doyon, definitely like always on top of me all the time and they are guys I can constantly turn to ask questions and made sure I'm doing my right, doing the right thing. And yeah, so my production is all due to like all of those things and a combination of all of those things.
Aaron: Well, you just mentioned, three seniors, I know there's senior night coming up. So take us in that linebacker room a little bit more maybe what you've learned from the seniors because there's only eight on the team, but a number of them are linebackers.
Tony: Yeah. So we got, 8 on the team and three of them alone at linebacker. So Conner Suraci, he's the guy that knows everything. We call him sauce in the team. He just knows everything. If I have a question about a formation, about a play, about a coverage, anything I could go to him and turn to him. Zach Doyon, he's a character, he's a great guy. We play a lot together and he's just always constantly. We play well together. The things that I'm not good at, he picks up, for things he's not good at I pick up forward and Pete, he's like the super senior. He's a big man in the room. Pete is a great guy.
Tony: Again, another guy I could always turn to ask a question to. The guy's always been supporting me this whole year since I've been here and I can give my success to those guys, my coaches and a D-Line upfront.
Aaron: Sure. And then from a receiver's perspective as a first year Mohamed, what are some adjustment you've had to make? What's the biggest difference? Maybe high school now into college?
Mohamed: High school to college. Everybody's on a different speed. It's not like high school where you have the mismatch like every play. In college you got to be, it's like more timing based. You have to be where you need to be at that time. If one person does one thing wrong, it can mess it up for everyone because the quarterback is, he's reading what we see and Costa is not, he's actually going to follow the rules to the progression. So he has to go through his progression with one, two, three and as everything's based on timing, I just need to get where I need to be so he can make the plays that he needs to make.
Aaron: Excellent. Tony, how about you from a defensive perspective is? Is speed the main difference?
Tony: Biggest difference from high school to college is definitely the speed of the game and being able to just know exactly where you need to be. So in our linebacker room coach Davis, he talks about being in like the right gaps and filling these holes and like knowing where your hole is because just like as simple as like not being in a hole, leads to a touchdown. You got to be in right gap. Know your responsibilities, you can't be at somebody else's hole. In high school, I was able to just use speed and power to overrule that but in college is definitely a totally different ball game. You have to be in the right place at the right time.
Aaron: What's all this playing time right away like?
Mohamed: Playing time right away is like, I mean it's fun. It's an adjustment because when you put in a position to make plays, you know that you're going to be asked of a lot. So coming here I knew like I would be asked of a lot and the coaching staff has done a great job. They trust us. They pour into us and they constantly warn us about making the right decisions on the field, off the field, in terms of making plays but everything is earned in practice of course and it's like a fight with your brothers and everyone supports you to do better. It's just overall feeling and making you just play better because once the train starts going, we all get going.
Mohamed: It's like when we all come in and play together and it's like, I feel like we can be so unstoppable and playing early is actually fun.
Aaron: Then I'm curious Tony, because coach Hall, he's a defensive guy. That's his background. What's he like as a head coach? I mean he brings the juice. That's what he says. What's it like behind the scenes?
Tony: Behind the scenes? Same as he is all the time. Coach Hall brings the juice for sure. He's energetic, he's excited. He's on top of us. He's making sure we doing, he's going around to all position meetings and leaving the room and he's like, "Hey, make sure you stay on top of this, then on top of that." He's just very excited and guy and he brings like just so much passion to the game and so much emotion which I feel in the past up having played with a lot of coaches who have not showed as much as coach Hall. He's like just as like emotionally invested as all the players on the team, which makes things so much better.
Aaron: Did he recruit you, how were you guys kind of recruited to Bates? What was the process like? And we'll start with you Mohamed.
Mohamed: I was introduced to one of the coaches by my cousin, Mohamed Coulibaly, and he was getting recruited at the time by coach Cottle and he put us to in contact. So I was talking to coach Cottle and coach Cottle got me in touch with coach Hall and coach Patterson. And that was where recruitment started from me and like they watched my film and I liked the program and I liked that it's rebuilding and I like what the coaches had to offer, like how they feel about the game and what's the plan for rebuilding because rebuilding doesn't happen in one year. So like it's a process and we're on the road and I wouldn't want to do it with any other coaches because of that.
Mohamed: So coming here on my visit last year, I came to the Hamilton game last game of the season. I sat down with coach Patterson. We broke down some film, we talked, I sat down with coach Hall and we see that Bates has the necessary tools to win. And it's just like being a part of that, of something special. Becoming, starting from the bottom up like where we're building is, coach is in his second year. It's not going to happen overnight, but we're getting there. So recruitment was definitely fun. And I wanted to take part in something like this.
Aaron: How about you? What was the process like for you?
Tony: Yeah, so similar to Mohamed, I was recruited by a coach who's no longer here but at... so I came up for Williams and I'm not sure what the score, but it was like a wide margin when Williams beat us last year and the the thing is that coach Hall talks about a lot is that like to the common spectator is like, you feel like, Oh, like Bates is getting blown out, Bates is getting beat. When I see, when I came to the game and definitely something that's built in a process where we're much closer to breaking through, like coach G, special teams coach, he talks a lot about constantly banging on a stone and like one day is going to crack and it doesn't crack because of that final blow of cracks because it's all the blows before it. So I've definitely seen that last year when I came here for my visit against Williams and I just wants to be a part of that and now I'm here.
Aaron: Yeah. Mohamed, you mentioned your cousin on the team? What's that like?
Mohamed: Playing with him is fun because me and him, we started off playing against each other in Pop Warner and then in high school we got the opportunity to play together for our senior and junior years. So it was like, especially because he plays defensive back and I played receiver, we go against each other. So it's like a competition between me and him. Who's going to go back with a bragging rights to the family. It was like in practice everyday, like the coaches see it, everybody sees it. I pushed him hard, he pushed me hard and I feel like it's just our way of like making each other better to make plays for the team.
Aaron: Yeah. Well, this Saturday Garcelon Field has been around for 120 years. First ever night game for football, at least on Garcelon. Tony, how exciting is that for you?
Tony: Oh, It's going to be awesome. I went to a small prep school in Rhode Island and we only played games on Saturdays. So my whole life I've only played games on Saturdays, Saturday afternoon. I've never played a night game. So this will be my first night game too. I'm actually excited for it and I can't wait.
Aaron: And then how about the chance to get the seniors to go out at home with a victory?
Mohamed: I mean that's the one thing we've been wanting to work towards this whole year because the seniors, like we owe it to them. Like there's only eight seniors and when they came in it was a lot more than eight and people gave up on the process. And those seniors, they put in countless amount of work. Seniors like Jon Lindgren, Flanagan, Suraci, Pete. They pour into us and they make us a better team. The effort they put in the film room after practice, staying on top of freshmen who's making sure we understand what we need to do. That's the biggest goal for us this year. Make sure to go out on a good note.
Aaron: What are your thoughts on senior night for these guys?
Tony: Yeah, I agree is huge. I think we definitely owe them a win because those guys put in so much work and they're constantly holding young guys accountable. They're constantly watching film. They constantly have practice. They constantly be early to things. They're showing just leading away from me. I know especially in the linebacker room I am learning from them and the rest of the freshmen and I feel like it will be amazing for them to go with a win in the first ever night game.
Aaron: Before we go, your final thoughts, maybe the Colby game. Obviously you had your first career touchdown in the end it was kind of a heartbreaker but you guys rallied, right? You were down 23 nothing. You almost came back. What were your final thoughts kind of on how that game ended up?
Mohamed: Ending the Colby game was rough because in the beginning of the game, our team, like we know we can move the ball against teams on offense. We struggled a little bit early but we scored on the last play, the first half I believe and that got the momentum flowing because once we know we can make plays, it's just up to us to do it. We make mistakes on our own and we make uncalled for errors and once we cleaned up the mental errors and if everyone does their job, we know what type of power we can become. Sean Bryant, he had a great day. We lost one of our receivers, Christian Olivieri in the game and players behind him stepped up at his role.
Mohamed: Parker Smith came in and I remember he caught the two point conversion and we were right behind him. Stephen Brackett came in after Parker got hurt and it's like we know we could do what we capable of doing and once we put it all together, there's no telling what we really can do.
Aaron: And the defense threw a shutout in the second half, right?
Tony: Yeah. So from a defensive standpoint, we gave up 23 and a first half and now it's just... and we got back to the locker room and we were just like, boys what are we doing? The senior stepped up Pete, Jon Lindgren, and those guys in a locker room was like, talk to the guys and we know that we're better than this. And we went out there and we showed that we are better than that and we gave him 23 points, we spotted them 23 points as coach always said. They didn't even deserve those points. I think that going forward we wwill definitely be more prepared and come out playing. And we'll play like in the second half than in the first half.
Aaron: Tony, Mohamed, thank you so much for joining the Bobcast. Really appreciate it and we hope to have you on many more times during your time at Bates.
Mohamed: Absolutely. Yeah.
Tony: Thank you.
Aaron: It’s time for the 5th quarter on the Bobcast with head football coach Malik Hall. Coach Hall breaks down the Bobcats’ tight loss at Colby and looks ahead to Saturday’s contest under the lights against Bowdoin.
Aaron: Well coach, you guys had a touchdown called back on a holding penalty. I mean, my goodness. So close on Saturday. What are your thoughts on that comeback effort your team made there down 23 nothing to pull within three.
Malik: You know a valid effort, you can't take that away from the Bobcats. In fact, it kind of, it's like an itch you can't get to because we stifled them in the second half.
Malik: They didn't change. We didn't change. We just changed how we thought about the game. We changed how we played the game. Another interviewer asked me, what'd you say to them in the halftime. I said, "Guys, we have to play better." There are some nuances to football that the every day fan may not know but I also believe that every day fan can look at what they're looking at and know what they're looking at. It doesn't require you to be in a meeting room to know what you saw. When I look at it, you know, we were still a victim of big play on defense. When you think about it, they're on the third and 15 and they throw screen and screen them in the end zone.
Malik: Those are plays where again, they're not running it to make it a touchdown. They're running it to keep the drive alive at best and then last year they ran the ball for 225 yards. Right? Like going into this year for everyone on the defense, whether you play last year or you didn't, they had to watch that because that's a common denominator of film. They still have the same players. They still have the same offensive coordinator and so we have to use film of O to get a feel for how do they see us, were they are power team before we played them last year. The answer would be no.
Malik: And so what did we do that triggered them to say, "Hey, run power." And so going into or preparing for, would they know that to be true about their success last year and sure enough they came into the first half running the ball. We struggled stopping the run. It was going for five or seven yards a pop. The pass wasn't effecting us in terms of moving the ball down field. It was the run and so after the first half and our offense, I think has shown some great progress. We are explosive unit but we are red zone struck.
Malik: We get in the red zone and we seem to lose a lot and I don't mean in terms of the result. I mean in terms of whatever momentum got us down there, it apparently just kind of fades. The good news though, we did score once we got down there, which again, that's righting our wrongs from weeks past. I think our offensive line played their probably best game of the year. There were moments in the run game where you saw offensive line driving defense alignment down field. I think our backs have to do a better job in trusting that they're going to do that so they can just get behind the plow and it's like you driving a snow truck now brother, like just let the o-line do the work or you have to do is get behind them.
Malik: I think they missed some of those opportunities with the o-line this weekend, but ultimately they did run hard and I think any of our offensive success, I want to always be able to love the bisg, because as we spoke to the nuances of the game, I don't necessarily think that every day fan can see a pancake on the field. The only reason we can see it is because we have trained eyes, if you will, but there are a lot of things that we can't catch on the field. So you only see it the day after and the day after they were opening up holes that our running backs doesn't always see, but they can't control how the running back sees it. What they can control is who they get on to and who they drive.
Malik: I thought they did a great job at that. I thought early on the flags of hold, the holding flags, the first flag we have of I think a nine yard gain and they call it on Hayes on the perimeter. I thought he did a great job in blocking the kid and that's one of those penalties that I can't tell Hayes to not be so aggressive because we have an aggression issue on game day and so some penalties are aggression penalties that you have to live through and other penalties you don't want to live through them. I either want it to end but I think when you look at the Bobcats this weekend and you saw us put together special teams offense and defense in one half.
Malik: We've yet to do it for four quarters. I think we're an explosive team when we figure out if we play together in complementary football we can be very dynamic. When you talk about a fourth quarter finish, what we often talk about on fifth quarter, that fourth quarter finish was there and it was a photo finish. I wouldn't have wanted to happen to any one of our players to catch that touchdown more than Brackett because you talk about a kid who's 155, 160 pounds, works his tail off. He gets in games here and there and for it to be Colby, chance to win the game, everything's right and he's open in the end zone that is credited to everything that he does when the ball doesn't come his way, when he doesn't get in the game and that is Bobcat football.
Malik: Where it's not about who is about the policies, is about the Bobcats in itself. And at any given point, it can be a Brackett, it can be a Chris Capo, it can be, Isaiah Saunders. It can be Sean Bryant, it could be Mohamed, Diawara. Like all, it can be Christian Olivieri or all of those guys have touched the ball.
Malik: So now I've you saying that we can distribute the ball amongst seven or eight receivers. I think we have a really great potential to be explosive but along with that talent pool, we still have to work on the discipline piece.
Aaron: I was going to mention that. You took the words out of my mouth about the receiving depth. All of a sudden you have a bunch of options and it seems like, I mean Sean Bryant's career day.
Malik: Yeah. You know, Sean, how about that? I mean he comes off of a knee injury earlier in the year. His brother's under the weather all year. So, talk about, I truly believe football gives every player an opportunity to overcome, right? Because not until you make the play, you're still in a storm and once you make the play like, "Wow, there's the sun." And one catch turned in to what, six catches for him on the day, almost a hundred yards?
Aaron: Almost a hundred yards. Yeah.
Malik: And the last one, and I love Sean and I feel for any of our guys who ended that game on the mistake like O'Brien and Nicky Florio like that holding call is a tough call for them for how they were playing that game. I don't want to take the call away from them as much as the coach in me wants to have it taken out. We ended the game with like some things you got to go through to kind of become a better man for it. Nicky had a rough game and he never quit and so much so the aggression of the penalty or the flag is a byproduct of not quitting and just competing. OB being a senior and seeing it all and then he saw some more. I think it's a reminder that you know of how hard it is. The when you do it, all right, someone can see you doing it wrong.
Malik: Whether that's true or not, they could see that as, "Oh no, you can't do that." So if you're in a business and you think you're doing it right and someone deems it wrong, do you go in the jar and you're like, you know what, I was wrong. Let me take that same work that I put together and make it right on the next project. And so when you talk about all of those guys who had receiving options, I think health plays a part in it. Confidence is the next piece and being able to protect our quarterback. Costa has a dynamic arm and he's a dynamic athlete and we have some dynamic tools around them, but getting it all to gell for one play for another, play for another play.
Malik: I think the Bobcat fanbase saw a offense that we want to be in the future and the third and fourth quarter. I do believe our offense was much more productive all game than what the stats over their score would reflect but I also think that plays into their complimentary football. We don't play because defensively now we have to get some stops and we're not getting stops and our offense is moving the ball, but they're stalling out but they're moving it. Well that is a byproduct of football too. But if we get stops, the field changes. Now we can pick up where we left off maybe on the 40. And so that's the part of the game that we made right at the end.
Malik: We go in the last two drives, we had them stopped 3rd and 15 we give it up again and now you're like, wow. So now we need to get another stop in hopes that we can just have some time on the clock. We did get that stop and we didn't come up with it at the end. It was good for the game Sean had. I don't want to take that away from Sean as much as I want to as the competitor, the coach who loves his guys. But Sean needed that.
Malik: So Sean and the next fourth quarter that he's in and he's on fire, he knows, catch it, get north and try to score. Could he have scored? Who knows? Who knows? I think for him, his disappointment is that he did play a good game and it ended that way but I'm proud of the guys. I'm proud on how they fought. I'm proud on how they competed and once again, winning is a byproduct of competing at a high level and unfortunately we competed at a high level for two quarters. You wonder if the Bobcats ever put four quarters together, who are they?
Malik: And so one of the questions I'm often asked and I think we've had this conversation a few times, what Bobcat team will show up?
Malik: You get that Bobcat team, you probably saying they're a dangerous team but when you don't get that Bobcat team, everyone's just wondering what's going on, including our coaching staff but as we continue to grow in our youth, I think those moments help you mature.
Aaron: Let's look ahead to this weekend. Night game, a rarity for the Bobcats, they're at Garcelon Field against Bowdoin and you played Bowdoin at night last year also at their place. How does it change since you have all day to think about it instead of just like a one o'clock kick?
Malik: Yes. Night games are very atmospheric. I think for the fan base it's a beautiful time especially in this time of year. Halloween is this week. I would expect guys to be out in and wear uniforms, storm troopers, Star Wars characters. I think that's a great atmosphere to be in. Almost like a Halloween party on game day and the fact that our athletic department is putting together a 'Cats Carnival. I think this is just a beautiful time for our Bobcat athletic department but more importantly, our opportunity for our guys to go compete in something new to Garcelon Field. And so when you think about the rival, we got a lot of reasons to want to win this one. When you add the rival into that, that should make it a pretty juicy game.
Malik: But as we speak to rival, and we spoke to that last week, I had this conversation with the team. I'm an emotional person and so for me, I can let a team get me in a space when I'm not playing my game because I'm emotionally tied into the rival. I think that happened to our guys with the personal fouls and the lesson on that is play with emotions, but do not let your emotions guide you. I think Yoda told Luke Skywalker that, right?
Aaron: Told him something like that.
Malik: I think again, it's a matter of be excited to play, be excited to win against a opponent that's a rival, but do not ever let the rival make you emotional. I'm emotional about our guys. I'm not emotional about Colby per se and I don't want our guys to be emotional about Bowdoin. I want them to play with emotions, but do not let emotions guide you through a game because your emotions are swayed based on moments.
Malik: And we let that moment get away from us in the first half because we're emotionally driven and we could control them. Two personal fouls in the first half. That's 30 yards being bang, boom, done. And then when you add the more flags, whether they're aggression flags or not, emotionally, if you're in control, when they come off the gas, when they get more guys, when they hit the breaks, but when you're not in control of your emotions, you tend to just see red. You know what I mean? And you lose, you lose a significant amount of ability when you're not focused, when you're focused through emotion.
Malik: And so though it was a night game, which I'm excited about, I think the Lewiston/Auburn community will come out and support us. We have first responders for our coin toss. Christine Schwartz told me she's going to do cotton candy and I'm excited for that. Long as it's Garnet cotton candy but I'm excited for the opportunity again, to play in front of our fans, to afford to play in front of our fans in a night game with a rival. Listen, that is college football tradition and building on that tradition. So I'm excited.
Aaron: All right. Coach Hall, thanks so much for on the fifth quarter. Appreciate it.
Malik: And again, is a great day to be a Bobcat.
Aaron: After Tuesday contests at Colby this week, the field hockey and men’s soccer teams open NESCAC tournament play on Saturday. Meanwhile, Bates’ nationally ranked cross country teams compete at the NESCAC Championships at Williams, and the volleyball team hits the road for the final two regular season contests of their season. We’ll recap that action, the football team’s rivalry game with the Polar Bears, and much more, next time, on the Bates Bobcast!