I interviewed Taylor McVeigh ‘21, a forward on the Bates women’s basketball team from Hanson, MA, who was named “Rookie of the Week” by the Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches Association on Tuesday February 6th.

Kerry Manuel (KM): How did you begin your basketball career?

Taylor McVeigh (TM): I actually was forced into playing basketball by my mom in third grade. She wanted me to try it and I was so upset I cried — I will never live that down. My aunt played at Curry College and coached younger players. I guess I didn’t want to get sucked into all of that….but then after I started playing I absolutely loved it.

KM: Tell me about this season.

TM: This season was very rewarding. We learned a lot from the ups and downs and we learned about the culture of our team and the program we are trying to build, which is something our coach has emphasized for us all season. We unfortunately did not get the end results we had hoped for, but I think it’s important that we know now what the foundation of our team is.

KM: Congratulations on receiving Rookie of the Week! How did you feel after hearing the news?

TM: I was excited! It was nice to find out that what I had been working towards this season had paid off enough.

KM: When did you find out?

TM: It’s funny, my dad was the first person who told me! He saw the post on Twitter and screenshotted it and sent it to me, and soon my aunts tagged me on Facebook. My whole family heard about it before me! They said they were really proud of me, and excited to see my hard work pay off.

KM: Why do you think you received this award?

TM: I had pretty good games against Hamilton and Amherst, but I think it was because of the comfort factor that made me stand out. A lot of the plays I made were based on my teammates, and the meshing of our team, that’s why I was able to perform. All of the plays I made were the result of a great pass by one of my teammates and I wouldn’t have been able to make the plays without them.

KM: How has college basketball been different than high school?

TM: The mindset of the team is a lot different. Everyone is willing to put in a lot of time on the court and off the court to work towards the goals of our team.

KM: What are those goals?

TM: One of the goals is to win, but unfortunately we didn’t get that result this year. However, the othergoals were about what the foundation of our team will look like for the next three years and beyond. Something we talked about at the end of our last game on Friday was around the culture shift — we want to become a winning and competing program in the NESCAC.

KM: How have you improved the most this season?

TM: Something that our coach pushed us all to do is to become a leader no matter what grade you are in. I think she really pushed us to do that and our teammates pushed each other.

KM: What is the “Leader of the Day” about?

TM: Every day at practice our coach would assign someone to be the “leader of the day” and that morning she would send her practice recommendations to our coach that she thought we needed to work on based on the previous practice or game. We would meet with [our coach] and talk about our practice plan. It was also a way she could check in with us and talk about what she wanted from us. Everyone on the team did it like three times throughout the season.

KM: What was your experience like being “Leader of the Day?”

TM: It was definitely a little bit uncomfortable because I am not one of the most vocal leaders. In high school I was more of a “leader by example,” and that is what I wanted to work on coming in. But by the end I was more comfortable with it and and more confident knowing what I could bring to the team.

KM: What would you say was the highlight of this season?

TM: I would say that the highlight was the Middlebury game in January. It was the only game we won in the NESCAC. It was nice to see everything we worked for come together and we got everything done that we needed to get done…we executed everything our coach asked us to.

KM: If you could give advice to your pre-college self, on and off the court, what would it be?

TM: I’d say on the court, I struggled with coming in injured, so I would tell myself to just keep pushing through it. It was a frustrating injury but I know I will be able to work through it.

Off the court, I would say to keep up what you have done, because it has gotten you to where you want to be. I think that’s something my parents have told me, to keep doing what you are doing and it will all work out.

KM: What are you most excited for going forward?

TM: We need to prepare this off season and throughout the summer. We will be working towards what we need to do to bring to the team. Getting prepared means doing lifts and playing pickup. But half the prep is the mindset we bring into next season — a winning mindset and focusing on what we can do to get the results we want. We have the effort, talent and ability but it is the x-factors that change a lot of the games for us, so we will be in a better position if we have those for next season.

KM: In three words, how would you want people to know you?

TM: Hard worker, leader, humble.