Welcome to overlap week, with 20 Bates varsity teams in action

A raucous crowd in Alumni Gym helped Bates men's basketball beat Wesleyan 74-66 on Jan. 30; the Bobcats look for more of the same in this Saturday's NESCAC quarterfinal against the same Cardinals. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College) 

LEWISTON, Maine -- It's a great week to be a Bobcat fan. Perhaps the best of the year.

This week, the winter and spring athletic seasons overlap. That means 20 of the 31 Bates varsity teams are either practicing or competing.

Spring Teams Diving In

The Bates academic schedule — featuring a fall semester, winter semester and Short Term — has distinctive vacation schedule, including this week's winter break, that gives Bobcat teams great flexibility for early-season training.

Bates softball and men's lacrosse have chosen to stay close to home, and they're on campus for their first practices. Men's lacrosse has even been able to practice on Garcelon Field, remarkably well-cleared of the 92,000 cubic hectares of snow that have fallen on it over the past month.

While all spring teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference could begin preseason training on Feb. 15, Bobcat teams have the advantage of diving right into their game schedules if they choose.

Indeed, Bates has more teams in competition this week than any other NESCAC college.

Baseball, for example, held its first practice on Feb. 15, just like every other NESCAC nine. Unlike the others, Bates' practice was at Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., where they opened their 2015 schedule the following day with a 9-1 win over the host Beavers. The team remains in Southern California all week, taking on Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer and Whittier.

Those baseball Bobcats had plenty of friendly company in suburban Los Angeles. Women's lacrosse opened at the University of Redlands on Wednesday evening (a 16-11 win), and the men's and women's tennis teams are also facing the likes of Redlands, CMS and Pomona-Pitzer.

Meanwhile, the Bates men's and women’s rowing teams have shipped their shells and themselves to the warmer climes of Tampa, Fla., where they are scrimmaging against the likes of Division II power Nova Southeastern this Saturday after a week of training there.

Winter Teams Feeling the Heat

The first games of a team's season are about figuring what works and what doesn’t. The Bates winter teams competing this week don’t have that luxury — they’re in full-on, no-holds-barred mode. 

Bates men's basketball is in one-and-done territory, hosting Saturday's 3 p.m. NESCAC quarterfinal showdown with Wesleyan. 

A Bates win would be its 20th and tie the 2006-07 team for the most wins in team history. Current head coach Jon Furbush ’05 was an assistant coach with that squad, and the Bates head coach was Joe Reilly — who now coaches the visiting Cardinals who stand in the Bobcats' way. (Women's basketball season ended with a bang on Saturday, a 77-67 overtime win over Colby.)

The men's squash team's season hits a climax this week with the College Squash Association Team Nationals, at Trinity College. The Bobcats are the 16th seed overall and the eighth seed in the Hoehn Cup (B Division). Their first-round opponent is ninth-ranked Princeton — coached by none other than former Bobcat Sean Wilkinson '08.

The men's swimming and diving season all comes down to this weekend's NESCAC Men's Championship, at Middlebury. The Bobcats look to follow the lead of the women's team, which just enjoyed its best-ever NESCAC Championship meet last weekend, placing second. After this weekend, athletes from both squads will continue to train for next month's NCAA Championships in Texas.

Bates' men's and women's track and field teams basically blend their winter (indoor) and spring (outdoor) seasons into one big year of more than 20 total meets. This weekend represents arguably the biggest indoor meet on the Bobcats' calendars, as Bates' best compete against the other top athletes in the New England Division III indoor championships. The men's meet takes place at Springfield (Mass.) College, and the women's is at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.

Bates' alpine and Nordic ski teams are making a final push in their training for next weekend's St. Lawrence Carnival in Lake Placid, N.Y., which doubles as the NCAA East Regional Championship, which they have marked as the peak of their schedules. The carnival will be the final collegiate competition for most Bates skiers this year, but for the very best it serves as a warmup for the NCAA National Collegiate Championship, also taking place in Lake Placid March 11–14. Right now, Bates’ one lock to compete at NCAAs is senior women's Nordic captain Hallie Grossman, who is well on her way to earning First Team All-East honors for her superb carnival season.