The college admissions process can by scary enough, even without the added stress of trying to make a team. For about half of the incoming class of 2022 however, this was a reality. While some were worrying about test scores, gpa and the common app; others tacked on maintaining their plus/minus, fastest time, or number of goals in a season. Why do they choose to do this you ask? I sat down with a few first-year athletes to answer just that.
Between 60%-70% of Bates students participate in athletics in some capacity, whether that is NCAA D3, club, or intramural. 50% of students participate in one —or more —of Bates’ 31 Varsity teams. A smaller, but significant population still, participate in one of Bates’ three NCAA D1 sports (alpine skiing, nordic skiing, squash).
Some athletes spend more than 20 hours a week at their sport, while taking an average course load and being members of one or more Bates clubs. Particularly for first-years, it can make a difficult adjustment to college, even more laborious to navigate. During orientation, fall athletes cannot participate in AESOP. Other participants are required to stay on campus for some breaks. A common stressor between almost every athlete? It is inevitable for them to have to miss some class.
Despite this however, Bates Student-Athlete are some of the most, involved, positive, and successful students at Bates.
When I asked two first year athletes, Swimmer Saskia Wong-Smith ‘22 and Soccer Player Annie Doig ‘22, about how much of a role Athletics played in their decision to come to Bates, their responses were remarkably similar.
“I was really drawn to the the idea of d3 swimming because I thought there was a value being placed on balance in your athletics and your academics” Said Wong-Smith.
“I didn’t want swimming to take up my entire life so that I wasn’t able to focus on my school work, while I also didn’t want my focus on swimming to decrease. I found that when looking at Bates and talking to the swim coaches, Bates had that balance I was looking for.”
And yet many student-athletes choose to go D3. I wondered; what separated Bates from the rest?
Doig described how her recruit visit did just that. Annie has been playing soccer for 13 years and was sure about continuing the same level of competition throughout her college career.
“Visiting as a recruit helped out a lot. I got to experience the Bates athletic community and just see how everything works. I also got to experience the culture of Bates women’s soccer in particular, which really helped in making my decision. I found the Bates community to be very close; everyone seemed to know each other.”
Even if you are sure Bates is the perfect place for you, adjustment can still be tough, and expectations and fears for college can be twofold.
Wong-Smith, unlike Doig, did not complete a recruit visit.
“Before getting here in August, I had a lot of fears in whether or not I would respond to the school as well in person as I had responded via internet/phone.” said Wong-Smith
“I was afraid that everyone would already know each other from visiting, and I would be the only person without a friend. I also feared that I wouldn’t like the school as much as I thought I would. However, in the 3 weeks that I have been here, those fears have been totally eradicated. I have felt so much love from my fellow students and the swim team, and all the worries I had about disliking the school have gone away.”
That fact rings true for doing as well, who is thrilled to have “found a close group of friends already.”
Whether you are an athlete or not, that is a facet that rings true throughout the Bates community. The close camaraderie of a team is mirrored by every class, every club, and between every student at Bates; that is what consistently sets Bates apart.
It won’t be long before these same first-year athletes are hosting recruits of their own, and continuing the strong tradition of both academic and athletic excellence at Bates.