The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Kyle Olehnik (Page 1 of 12)

Track and Field compete at New England Division III Outdoor Championships

It was an eventful and successful weekend for both the men’s and women’s track and field teams down in Springfield, Massachusetts for the New England Division III Outdoor Championships. The men preformed especially well, placing second while the women also did well, coming in 11th.

First, on the men’s side, shot putter and senior Nick Margitza along with fellow teammate and sophomore Adedire Fakorede paced the team, leading the way to 69 points putting them just behind MIT. Margitza won the NED3 shot put title for the second straight year while Fakorede took first place in the discus.

In the decathlon, senior Jack Aherne, sophomore Tyler Post, and junior Blake Downey all preformed admirably. Aherne placed fifth with 5,465 points while Post and Downey finished in seventh and eighth respectively. With his performance, Aherne qualified for Open New Englands.

For the women, junior Allison Hill won the 100-meter hurdles title and again broke her own record in the process, helping Bates secure the 11th place finish. Fellow teammate and senior Isabelle Unger placed fifth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and sophomore Srishti Sunil finished eight in the triple jump.

Overall, one of the highlights of the weekend for the women’s squad was sophomore Katherine Cook’s performance in her 10,000-meter run debut. As a result, she became Bates’ third-fastest runner ever.

Up next, members of both teams will compete at the all-divisions Open New England Championships on May 13th and 14th.

 

Baseball splits doubleheader at Salem State

The story of last Saturday for the Bates baseball team was superb pitching performances, this time from senior Connor Colombo and sophomore Connor Speed.

In Game One, Colombo went the distance and Speed followed suit in Game Two. Although the team dropped the first game, only one run was scored on nine total hits. Things got a lot more exciting in Game Two, as the ‘Cats won 5-1 behind five runs and nine hits.

With only one run scored in Game One, it was certainly a pitchers’ duel between Colombo and Salem State’s Sean Buckland. Colombo struck out four and gave up six hits while going six innings. Junior duo Brendan Fox and Eric Vilanova, along with freshman Christian Colon, recorded all three hits for the Bobcats.

In Game Two, the Bobcats scored three runs in the fourth inning to take the lead for good. Behind junior John Dinucci’s one-out single, the ‘Cats got the ball rolling, as senior Evan Czopek and junior Ryan McCarthy plated a pair. Colon continued his hot-hitting weekend, recording an RBI of his own as well.

Speed was the MVP of Game Two, as he picked up the complete game win, allowing one run on five hits while striking out seven.

The Bobcats pick things up again on Tuesday March 29 at Endicott. First pitch is set for 4:00pm and will be live streamed.

 

2016 has truly been madness

The first two rounds of the 2016 NCAA tournament have been, without a doubt, one of the best opening weekends in tournament history. Yes, 2013 does give it a run for its money, where Florida Gulf Coast’s run to the Sweet 16 highlighted a tournament of upsets that also included La Salle, Harvard, and Ole Miss picking up first round wins, but this year’s first two rounds have not only seen upsets, but fantastic games that have went down to the final whistle.

The story of the first round certainly centers on the teams that were not expected to win. Fourteen seed Stephen F. Austin, behind the play of Thomas Walkup, knocked off number three West Virginia at its own game. The Mountaineers, who are known for their stingy defense that extends from end line to end line, turned the ball over 22 times to an undersized, albeit quick, Lumberjack squad. Their sensational senior Walkup led the charge on both ends, getting to the foul line 20 times and converting 19, contributing to his 33 points. He also made several key defensive stops, including a big block in the final minutes of the game.

Although Stephen F. Austin’s run ended two days later to Notre Dame, they avoided the typical Round of 32 slump that has plagued mid-majors in tournaments past. With their one point, buzzer-beating loss, the Lumberjacks without a doubt captured the hearts and minds of many with their great defensive and offensive efforts the first weekend.

Yale pulled off another notable upset of the first round by defeating Baylor. In their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1962, the Bulldogs took down the Bears in a game that saw the action go down to the wire. With the loss, Baylor’s tournament struggles continued, as it was their second straight first round exit by four points or less.

Aside from the notable upsets, buzzer-beating thrillers were another theme of the first weekend. Arkansas Little Rock, who came back from a sizable deficit to eventually hit a game-tying shot in regulation against Purdue, beat the Boilermakers in overtime to send them to a matchup with Iowa State. The magic quickly ran out, however, as they lost to the Cyclones two days later. The following day, Northern Iowa broke the hearts of Texas Longhorn fans behind Paul Jesperson’s half-court heave that banked in as the clock expired.

Looking forward, number one overall seed Kansas looks like the ultimate favorite. After being one of the only consistent teams all season, the Jayhawks looked solid in their opener and then defeated a typical tourney powerhouse Connecticut Huskie teams. One other notable team to pay attention to as the tournament progresses certainly includes North Carolina, who had no problem advancing to the Sweet 16 under Roy Williams.

 

Softball begins the season winless

After spending the past week down in Clermont, Florida playing ten games in five days, the Bobcats returned to Bates winless and looking for answers as they begin conference play. Starting out sluggish by only scoring three runs or less in six of their first seven games, the bats came alive for the ’Cats as they scored 26 total runs in their final three games.

Beginning midway through their early season slate, the team showed certain promise versus North Central on March 19. Against Central, the Bobcats jumped out to the early lead behind the efforts of first-year Andrea Russo, who went 3-4 with a double and a run. However, the Illinois-area team took the lead for good in the third inning when they scored four runs.

The following game against Carthage, the Bobcat bats exploded in an eight-inning affair that saw the lead exchange hands multiple times. Behind sixteen hits, including sophomore Emma Schiller’s first career home run, which was a grand slam, the ’Cats broke out of their early season slump.

After eventually tying the game at 13, it remained that way through the sixth and seventh innings, but Carthage managed to take the lead in the eighth eventually sealing the win thereafter 14-13.

In the final two games of the Florida trip, the ‘Cats totaled 27 hits, but could not get their first victory, losing to Union 8-3 and Worcester State 12-10.

The Bobcats look to regroup as they have some time to prepare for a NESCAC doubleheader against Trinity on April 2.

 

“Taking a leap of faith”: The international presence on Bates Squash

Introduction

Attracting diverse students to Bates College, particularly from around the globe, is an important goal for Admissions and the College, in general. While most Bates athletics teams are comprised mainly of American students, one sport has successfully expanded its reach to recruit top talent from around the globe. Coach Patrick Cosquer and his staff have not only done a fantastic job in recruiting international players that fit the Bates ideal both academically and athletically; they have also set a precedent for the College to reach to the far corners of the world to bring students to Lewiston, Maine.

Before Bates

Initial Contacts

The US Junior Open, which occurs annually during Winter Break and includes approximately 1,000 student-athletes, is a central college squash recruiting event for international students. Though regulations prohibit coaches from speaking to students at the event itself, Cosquer often communicates with prospective students before and after the tournament.

Cosquer also noted that many students contact him expressing their interest in the Bates squash program. From there, Cosquer asks for a video from all international students, as he often isn’t able to see the recruits play in person. He includes videos and links to the Bates website and admissions page in his email signature as well, since most students don’t have the opportunity to travel to the United States before starting at Bates.

In fact, Cosquer said, “Ahmed [Abdel Khalek] is the only one of the four graduating seniors [all of whom are international students] who actually visited overnight before they applied Early Decision. So Caran [Arora], Lauren [Williams], and Filip Michalsky never had seen Bates, never had visited here. We had talked over the phone, emailed back and forth, and shared transcripts, and they took a leap of faith.”

The reality of the current environment in college squash is, according to Cosquer, “if we want to continue to be competitive, we have to go outside of the United States while also augmenting our roster and our school with qualified American students that can play squash and contribute.” Compared to the United States, many countries have superior youth squash systems, with players who dedicate far more time and energy from very young ages to the sport. Along with the tremendous talent he’s recruited from Egypt, Cosquer has coached several student-athletes from Zimbabwe, including Williams, as well as a number of student-athletes from India, among them captain Arora and promising sophomore Anirudh Nambiar.

“The Pitch”

Since his own tenure as a student-athlete at Bates between 1993 and 1997, when he played at shortstop for the baseball team and served as captain of the squash team, Cosquer has valued the “small, nurturing, intimate environment” that the College provides. In his discussions about the school with prospective international student-athletes, he emphasizes, “if you’re down from the road in Portland or you’re from Zimbabwe or Egypt, you’re coming to a place that is welcoming, warm, and friendly, that when you have something go wrong or you need help, support is right there- the math workshop, or writing workshop, or peer tutoring, or people like me.”

While that type of school may be appealing to many international student-athletes, there are two major obstacles Cosquer has to overcome in the recruitment process, namely Bates’ disadvantage in regards to name recognition and the school’s relatively small endowment. Cosquer commented that a majority of international families often base their college choice on name recognition, meaning that Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia attract top student-athletes rather easily. Bates has historically been overlooked by many international student-athletes for this reason. Yet Cosquer believes “having a two-time national champion and the number one player in college squash [Abdel Khalek] at this small little liberal arts school in Maine, they [international students] think, “Okay, there must be something to that place.”

Amongst the 11 schools in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), Bates had the smallest endowment in 2015, at approximately $264 million. That creates a significant challenge for Cosquer, since financial aid is often a concern for international student-athletes. Still, Dean James Reese, the Associate Dean of Students for International Student Programs and a highly influential figure in accommodating international students, noted that, “Bates is generous with need-based financial aid for all students, spending about $33 million each year on aid. Athletes, wherever they are from, must first be strong students, and then they are evaluated within the overall applicant pool, which is very competitive.” From Cosquer’s perspective, “I’ve been tasked with trying to balance American students with resources that are full pay with international students that have need. That’s not necessarily an out in the open situation, but that’s certainly the real life situation at Bates College. Our endowment is significantly lower than our peer institutions.”

Even with those difficulties, Cosquer knows that he just needs to convey the unique essence of Bates to attract student-athletes. For those international student-athletes who ultimately make the decision to attend Bates, Cosquer thinks, “it’s something that they saw in Bates College, whether it was what they’re going to study or who they talked to on the phone, whether that’s me or Dean Reese or somebody else. He’s been here for so long [39 years], he’s the professional with this. But there’s something that brought them to the school besides squash, because we know squash is important and it’s fun, but at the same time if all you want to do is play squash, then there’s a million different places you can do that.”

At Bates

Transition

Of course, the transition from high school to college is generally difficult for any student. But the prospect of coming from outside the country to the small town of Lewiston, Maine is especially hard for the squash athletes who come from large cities such as Prague, Czech Republic, Cairo, Egypt, and Innsbruck, Austria.

“A lot of times they arrive scared, nervous, just like any first-year, to be perfectly honest,” Cosquer explained. Accompanying that nature of apprehension, the head coach explained with a smile, is generally, “what the hell did I get myself into?” That thought, which is in the minds of many first-years as they go through their first Commons and class experiences, takes some time to eventually subside, with the help of new friendships and ice-breaking experiences.

These experiences happen virtually right when the international student-athletes players step onto US soil. The squash coaching staff makes an effort to bring all the players together even before the school year typically starts. “We get everyone together as quickly as we can on September 3 or 4, right before school starts, in this building, and we talk about who we are,” Cosquer noted. “We talk about our differences, we talk about coming from different places, we acknowledge that, and that’s really important.” By understanding where everyone comes from and any differences or challenges they could potentially face, the team builds an early trust between all the players, both men and women.

While a lot is done among the players to ease the transition process, the coaching staff also has a significant influence, particularly Coach Cosquer himself. When the weather allows, it’s common for him to organize hikes (up Morse Mountain this year), followed by a staple in American culture, barbeques, typically occurring at his Cumberland-area residence. These activities, aside from introducing many of the foreign and domestic athletes to the Maine outdoors, also allow the players to “just chill out, get off campus” and help to build “a de facto place abroad, place away from campus.”

In the end, as the international players slowly transition to life at Bates, Cosquer hopes that these experiences not only help them become acclimated to Lewiston, but Maine and America in general. This support that Bates offers helps international student-athletes grow comfortable in an entirely new environment.

Support

The support system that Bates College utilizes for all students in general is a huge factor after the initial transition to Bates life. Through assigning a Dean to individual groups of students (a policy that was enacted at the start of the 2015 academic year), Bates facilitates bridging the gap between extracurricular and academic life for many international squash players.

In supporting the international student-athletes on the squash team, Dean Reese echoes much of what Cosquer conveyed in his message about significant cultural differences.

Reese explained that, “We take an individual interest in each student, and assign each an advisor that they can reach out to for help at all hours on a number of situations.” Specifically, the College ensures that, “interaction with the advisor also addresses special situations, ranging from simple cultural differences to more major explanations of life in the U.S. that students need to know about.” The work that Dean Reese has done has made him a student favorite, as he invests extensive interest and care in each student as they adjust to life in the United States.

While there is significant administrative support for international students in general, the squash team specifically helps one another throughout their careers at Bates. As head coach, a priority for Cosquer is to not only better his players, but support them if need be. And while Cosquer certainly has an influence on the contingent of international players who call The Bates Squash Center on Alfred A. Plourde Parkway home, a lot of support happens with “the other students on the ground.”

The game of squash also helps support those whose mind may be elsewhere by giving them a chance to relieve stress and solely focus on the task ahead: winning matches.

Diversity at Bates

Both Reese and Cosquer tout the reciprocal benefits of having a diverse student population at Bates. Reese commented, “We believe strongly that there is always much to learn from everyone from the various societies, cultures, and experiences at Bates,” while Cosquer said, “I think the biggest benefit is not necessarily on the court, but on the educational side of the coin; not just Ahmed teaching [first-year] Coley Cannon about Egypt, but Coley Cannon teaching Ahmed about America.”

Early in his tenure at Bates, Cosquer recalls that his teams were mainly comprised of upper-middle class former tennis players from America. Despite the tensions that occasionally arise from differences in religious and political beliefs, he believes, regardless of athletic success, that Bates is “a better school when there are more kids from different backgrounds; forget about international, black, white, whatever- if we can support that at Bates, you’re going to be better educated, you’re going to be better prepared for the world.”

Conclusion

In college athletics, coaches from coast to coast certainly value the athletic achievements of their players. However, an underlying characteristic that coaches religiously harp on is the growth they see in the student as a person. At Bates College, the support students receive is an important factor in preparing them for life both during and after college. For the international students who make up a good portion of the student body, administrative support has given them opportunities outside the classroom, particular in the professional field.

The men’s and women’s squash teams at Bates are a unique group of student-athletes. With players from countries in Africa to the West Coast, becoming comfortable around one another does not happen overnight. But the support system that is in place at the College, coupled with the bonds and relationships that are built, makes the process much easier. Eventually, as Coach Cosquer hopes to move into different regions of the world like South Africa and Southeast Asia, these relationships will help mold the developing international identity of the team.

Ultimately, and most importantly, Cosquer explained that, “the glue that holds it together — maybe it’s me — but I think it’s the game of squash.”

 

Baseball participates in RussMatt Invitational

Looking to escape the chill of Northern New England, the Bates baseball team traveled to Auburndale, Florida this past weekend to compete in the RussMatt Invitational against UMass-Boston and Babson. Against the Boston-area schools, the ‘Cats went 1-2.

First, in non-tournament play against the NAIA institution Webber International, the team was blanked 12-0. Senior Samuel Warren provided the lone spark as he tallied a single and a stolen base, though nothing was made of it. For the game, the Bobcats only managed four hits. Starter and freshman Chris Krawczyk only went two-thirds of an inning, surrendering four earned runs, giving way to sophomore Connor Russell, who gave up the eight remaining runs.

Shifting towards the bout with UMass-Boston, the Bobcats dropped both contests by a combined score of 13-2. In the first game of the double header, Bates was held to only one hit, by junior Brendan Fox. While senior Conor Colombo only had given up one run through three innings of work, a big top of the fourth for UMass-Boston broke things open with a seven-run outburst. They would go on to finish with nine runs, while Bates was shutout for the second straight game.

In the second game of the day, the ’Cats faired much better, recording two runs on ten hits. Senior Conor Reenstierna and junior Brendon Canavan led the way with five hits between the two, and sophomore Reed Mszar and junior John Dinucci followed suit with two hits apiece. Sophomore Connor Speed went four and one third innings, surrendering three runs on eight hits. Senior Rob DiFranco finished things with one and a third innings pitched.

In the final game of the Invitational against Babson, Fox led the charge with a career-high four hits, which included two doubles, a triple, and four RBIs. Junior Anthony Telesca threw his first career complete game to pick up his second win on the season. Telesca gave up three earned runs on eight hits while striking out nine en route to the 9-6 win.

Bates will be back in action on Saturday the 19th against Middlebury in Northboro, Massachusetts.

 

Women’s lacrosse moves to 3-0

Senior Emma Brinkman beats the Wesleyan goaltender. (Alison Mackay/The Bates Student)

Senior Emma Brinkman beats the Wesleyan goaltender.
(Alison Mackay/The Bates Student)

There are games that are close, and then there are games that are remarkably one-sided. The Bates women’s lacrosse team moved to 3-0 on the young season after handling Wesleyan on Garcelon Field, 12-0. Wide margins of victory are not uncommon for the team; in fact, with the win over Wesleyan, the Bobcats brought their goal total to 41 to only 12 conceded.

Before taking down Wesleyan, the team defeated Wellesley behind the efforts of senior goalie Hannah Jeffrey, who made 13 saves on the day. Complimenting her on the offensive side of things, All-American and senior Moriah Greenstein recorded four goals, while sophomore duo Allison Dewey and Camille Belletete scored three goals apiece.

Not only did Greenstein score the four goals, but she also set a Bates all-time record for assists with 69, pulling ahead of Joan O’Neill ’12, who had 68.

Against Wesleyan, the women held their opponent scoreless for the first time since 2007. Jeffrey again was stellar in net for the ‘Cats, getting the ten-save shutout, while Greenstein scored five of the Bobcats’ 12 goals. For her outstanding efforts, Jeffrey was recognized as NESCAC Women’s Lacrosse Player of the Week.

For the game, the Bobcats had 28 shots on net to Wesleyan’s 11. The ‘Cats had 16 turnovers to their opponents’ 13, four of which were caused by Dewey.

The team will again be in action on Wednesday against Babson on Garcelon Field at 5:00 PM.

Allard’s overtime winner preserves undefeated season

The eighth-ranked men’s lacrosse team had a whirlwind of a weekend, taking Wesleyan to OT on the road, highlighted by senior standout Jack Allard’s game winner, and demolishing University of New England thereafter. Sitting at 4-0, the ‘Cats have a huge top ten matchup at fourth-ranked Amherst on the horizon.

First, against Wesleyan, it was a back and forth tussle all game, as the ’Cats saw themselves down early, but were able to come back and keep it close the rest of the way. Junior Kyle Weber set the pace for the squad, tallying three goals, followed by a quartet of Bobcats who recorded two.

Just before the end of regulation, a Bates turnover brought Wesleyan back into the contest, Allard noted. “The offense was a little disappointed heading into overtime because we thought we could have held onto the ball and secured a victory in regulation,” explained the senior attacker. “We turned the ball over, which led to two quick Wesleyan goals to make it 11-11 with no time left.”

In overtime, senior goalie Joe Faria kept the ‘Cats in the contest, bailing out the squad on a couple occasions. Allard credited Faria for having a major part in securing the victory. A late Wesleyan penalty with 31.2 seconds to go in overtime gave Bates a man-up advantage, which would eventually be the deciding factor.

“Once we got the ball, I knew we were going to score,” Allard said. “I think that proving we can win close games like this will help us move forward in our goal to win the NESCAC championship and contend for a national championship.”

Against University of New England in Biddeford, things were a lot less stressful for Bates. In a 19-4 victory, the Bobcats built a 13-1 halftime lead behind the exquisite play of their two All-American players. Junior Charlie Fay matched his career high in goals with five, while Allard had a game-high seven points, with four goals and three assists.

The Bobcats had 47 shots on net to UNE’s 33 and won 16 of the 25 face-offs. It was definitely a convincing performance and a nice tune up before their trip to Amherst, who finished 18-3 a season ago, on Saturday.

“We have a lot of respect for that team [Amherst] and we know we need to work very hard this week to prepare for this Saturday,” Allard highlighted. “They beat us twice last year and we are looking for some revenge.”

Women’s basketball upsets Williams

The women’s basketball team capped off their home regular season run in exhilarating fashion, as they upset 17-6 Williams College, putting the icing on the cake on a regular season that has seen vast improvement. In the last three weeks alone, the team secured a spot in the NESCAC Championships and posted a 4-3 record.

Against Williams, sophomore Nina Davenport did what she has done all season; core and provide the deciding factor. For the game, Davenport notched a double-double with a season-high 26 points and 13 rebounds. She earned the honor of NESCAC Player of the Week for her efforts.

The lone senior on the team, Chelsea Nason, provided much needed leadership and tenacity to take down Williams and give the squad momentum heading into postseason play. Nason scored 10 points and led a post-game celebration in the locker room as the team celebrated the upset.

The Bobcats did not trail the whole game, leading at each quarter break en route to a 59-49 victory. Although the Bobcats only shot 33 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc, they forced 19 Williams turnovers that led to 12 points. The ’Cats also rebounded their opponent, 44-42.

With the victory, the Bobcats recorded their fourth NESCAC victory, the most since the 2012-2013 season. It was also their first win against Williams in Alumni Gym in nearly eight years.

The team will travel to Amherst on Saturday, February 20 for a 2 pm afternoon matchup.

“Not by Might, Nor by Power, but by Spirit:” The role of the NESCAC in Bates athletics’ history

Introduction

From baseball captain “Chick” Toomey to All-American running back and three-sport coach Dave Morey, the history of Bates athletics before it joined the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is both deep and rich in history and tradition. Although Bobcat athletics saw itself as one of the premier programs in the NCAA field prior to NESCAC affiliation, it was not until 1971 when the school joined the conference it finds itself in today. From there, as the program continued to grow throughout the 20th century, Bates eventually planted itself among the ‘Little Ivies” and became one of the poster children of the conference.

Before the ’CAC: The early history of Bates sports

Turn of the century

It wasn’t until 40 years after Bates’ founding, in 1895, that the college hired its first Athletic Director. Though he wasn’t officially known by that title, William Wheeler Bolster ’95 basically fulfilled that role as the “Director of Physical Training and Instruction.” However, Bates was active athletically well before Bolster took over. The Old Gymnasium, which was built in 1867, stood for 58 years until it mysteriously burned down in 1925. Alumni Gym opened thereafter in 1928, and has fortunately avoided the same fate. Bates baseball played their first game in 1872, while the football team began intercollegiate competition in 1893.

Bates football played in several games that attracted nationwide attention in the early-1900s, including contests against Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth that were covered by the Boston Herald, Boston Post, New York Tribune, and other national outlets. The team was coached by Dave Morey (who also coached hockey and baseball) from 1929-1939, a Dartmouth graduate who played professional baseball for the Philadelphia A’s in 1913. Famous sportswriter Grantland Rice gave Morey the nickname “David the Giant Killer” in 1932 after his Bobcat squad tied vaunted Yale 0-0.  Morey was so popular that Bates students started a petition for the college to reinstate him after his unexpected resignation in 1939, according to the Portsmouth Herald.

Another prestigious name from early in Bates’ athletic history is Harry Lord ’08, Bates’ sixth-best athlete of all-time in The Student’s list last year and an original member of the Boston Americans, a team that soon became the Red Sox. Frank Keaney ’11 (number seven on our list) went onto a legendary career as a basketball coach at Rhode Island, and is credited with inventing the fast-break offense. Charles “Chick” Toomey starred on the baseball field while at Bates, then became a highly regarded college football official, refereeing for 35 years, including six Harvard-Yale games and three Army-Navy games. Vaughan Blanchard ’12, Harlan Holden ’13, Ray Buker ’22, Art Sager ’26, Arnold Adams ’33 all competed in the Olympics in various track and field events.

Growth of the program

Though Bates didn’t have any other Olympians for another 45 years, the athletic program continued its upward trajectory. A 1935 “Athletics at Bates College” brochure noted that Bates’ athletic success came “not by might, nor by power, but by spirit.” The brochure also describes the Gray Athletic Building, which “contain[ed] a practice dirt gridiron, full-sized baseball diamond, and 40-yard straightaway.” Baseball, track, football, and tennis all used to play their contests on Garcelon Field. Men’s basketball began intercollegiate play during the 1920-21 season in the Old Gymnasium, while women’s basketball didn’t have their first season until 1968-69. This pattern of women’s sports having to wait decades after the men started competition to play is mirrored in soccer, as the men’s first season was in 1962 and the women’s first season was in 1980. However, women’s lacrosse (first season in 1975) actually began competing against other schools before men’s lacrosse (1978).

The baseball team plays on Garcelon Field, with Roger Williams Hall in the distance. (Muskie Archives/Courtesy Photo)

The baseball team plays on Garcelon Field, with Roger Williams Hall in the distance.
(Muskie Archives/Courtesy Photo)

The core facilities of Alumni Gym, the Gray “Cage,” and Garcelon Field may be the same, but sports at Bates have changed in several ways. For instance, student-athletes used to play on Freshman teams before joining the Varsity squad, and Varsity coaches doubled as coaches for intramural sports. One aspect that was missing from the Bates athletic experience was regular conference competition. Even though Bates did often face off against the other “Little Ivies,” it wasn’t until 1971 that the college found a home in the NESCAC.

Bates and the NESCAC

As a Division III conference, one step above the NAIA, the NESCAC is much more than a conference based solely on athletics.

The commitment to not only build strong athletes, but also academically driven individuals is evidenced in the NESCAC Mission Statement itself, where it is noted that the “primary mission” of the conference is to remain “consistent with our commitment to academic excellence and our core values.” As programs like Bowdoin, Bates, and Colby are commonly referred to as “Little Ivies,” the notion of student coming before athlete is certainly real, as opposed to many large and profitable Division One programs. The NESCAC began formation in 1955 with an agreement between Amherst, Bowdoin, Wesleyan, and Williams. Colby, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, and Bates then joined as sustaining charter members in 1971. Connecticut College was the last member to join, in 1982.

However, athletic competition does obviously play a crucial role. In fact, from the beginnings of the conference in 1971, the NESCAC has been commonly referred as the best Division III conference in the whole country. Many Division III championship tournaments largely consist of NESCAC members. From lacrosse powerhouse Tufts to the Trinity men’s basketball team, a tradition of excellence remains consistent year after year.

Within the NESCAC, Bates certainly has an administrative presence. Specifically in the form of “Sports Committee Liaisons,” the Bobcat athletic department has two members that serve as a voice for athletic programs. Athletic Director Kevin McHugh serves as the NESCAC Liaison for men’s basketball, while Assistant Athletic Director Sue Harriman reports to the conference for men’s and women’s skiing. The liaisons serve as a vital voice for athletic programs that wish to state their approval, or disapproval, with NESCAC conference policies.

1999 saw the conference take a major step forward, as the NESCAC became a “playing conference” by sponsoring conference championships across all sports. Awarding 27 total postseason titles, 14 for men and 13 for women, the championship season again is tailored to academics. Conference championships are designed to have the least impact on the academic schedules of all the institutions. Ultimately, as more sports are being recognized by the NESCAC with title winners, most recently with women’s golf in 2015, the challenge to honor the academic rigors of each school is constant.

While the NESCAC has evolved into an exemplary conference, the road was not always pretty. Specifically, instances of hazing have gripped the conference throughout the years. In 2011, Middlebury College suspended the majority of the women’s swim and dive teams for a hazing incident, which saw the freshman class carry the load for the rest of the season. And in 2013, Bowdoin’s men’s tennis was sanctioned by the NESCAC and forfeited four matches for an annual initiation that went awry.

Although the conference has had its fair share of problems, it has blossomed into a collection of schools with incredible competition and class, built on a tradition of both academic and athletic excellence.

Conclusion

Throughout its history, Bates has made a name for itself athletically. The college has managed to retain its academic integrity via its affiliation with the NESCAC while competing in one of the best Division III conferences in the country. Moving forward, both Bates and the NESCAC will aim to stay true to their founding principles while adjusting to modern challenges.

Thanks to the Muskie Archives for granting us access to their vast resources.

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