Last week I sat down with Bates’ football punter, Justin Foley ’19, to get a better understanding of our player. In 2015, his first year as a punter, Foley averaged 37.2 yards per punt on the season. He earned the “NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week” honor for his performance in the Bobcats’ 10-9 win over Colby on Oct. 31 of that season. His nine punts in the Colby game averaged 38.3 yards, with seven of them pinning Colby inside the 20-yard line. Two of Foley’s punts landed inside the 5 and another pinned Colby at the 3. In 2016, Foley’s play enhanced. He made the “Second Team All-NESCAC” and punted more than any other player in team history. He broke the Bobcats’ single-season record for number of punts in Week 6, finishing with 81 total. Foley’s kicking proved crucial with several games turning into field-position battles. He averaged 37.9 yards per punt and landed 20 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, with only five going into the end zone for touchbacks. This season he has already punted a total of 24 times in three games, which accumulates to 866 punting yards.
GN: Okay Justin, where are you from?
JF: I am from Lynnfield, Massachusetts.
GN: Growing up what sports did you play and when did you first start punting for football?
JF: I started playing football, baseball, and soccer way back in elementary school. I might have even been 3 or 4 when I started playing soccer and baseball. I continued with all three sports until high school and then I had to choose between football or soccer. I ended up going with football. We had kicker/punter tryouts for the freshman team and somehow I accidentally punted a spiral that blew my coach away. The position has stuck with me every since. Until my junior year of high school, I also played defense as a middle linebacker but then by senior year I was a punter/kicker only.
GN: Okay, cool. Now why did you choose Bates? Was sports a factor in your decision?
JF: Sports was definitely a crucial factor of my decision, but it was not the biggest factor. I had visited a bunch of other schools in New England and I am familiar with the area. My entire life growing up I have had a summer home on Echo Lake in Mt. Vernon, just outside of Augusta, and back in my middle school and high school days, my mother would always tell me, “I want you to go to a NESCAC school like Bowdoin, Bates, or Colby”. Every time I would dust her off with “Ya right Mom. Tiny school in Maine? No thanks!”. When the time finally came along junior and senior year of high school, I finally learned the value of a NESCAC education, and also visited the campuses to see how beautiful they actually are. After my first visit to Bates, entering my junior year of high school, I was dropping off a very close family friend, Jimmy Fagan ‘17, before his first year, and I said to myself “Wow. I can see myself here”.
GN: Obviously you have punted for the team since your first year at Bates and you have gotten better each year. You earned “NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week” honors against Colby your first year and you earned “Second Team All-NESCAC” honors last season. What are you doing that is helping you improve each year?
JF: The most important thing is consistency, and that starts with the way I drop the ball. I have to do that the same way every time. I do it differently depending on the weather, especially if it is windy. But that is the most important thing. My legs have to do the same thing, because of the muscles I use. Unless I am tight in the muscles, I can do the kicks consistently.
GN: Your team has had a rough start to the season. What has the coaches said to you guys during this stretch?
JF: He says that we bring energy and effort every week but we are lacking in focus here and there. We are making mental mistakes, not being in the right place at the right time and plays get blown up.
GN: Finally, some miscellaneous questions. Favorite TV shows growing up?
JF: Um, oh goodness (laughs). Family Guy and Friends.
GN: Great choices. Favorite commons meal?
JF: Focaccia chicken.
GN: Favorite sports teams?
JF: The Red Sox and the Patriots.
GN: Favorite athletes?
JF: Probably Marquette King. The punter on the Raiders, he is so cool (Laughs).
GN: Yeah, he has so much swag. I know you also play baseball at Bates. What is the biggest takeaway so far from playing football and baseball?
JF: Probably balancing my life with and without sports. Academics, social life, etc. A mixture of staying busy and finding time to relax.