The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Playing For a Crowd and Passing It Along to the Next Generation

A Conversation With Women’s Basketball Captains Davina Kabantu and Morgan Kennedy
Bates women’s basketball played U Maine-Farmington in Alumni Gym on Nov. 14. Carly Philpott ’27 for Bates College.

Before the Bates Women’s Basketball team moved forward to play in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen versus Wartburg College, The Student sat down with their team captains to discuss their leadership experiences and the future of the team. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity. 

So, how are you feeling with all this media attention on the team? 

Morgan Kennedy ‘24: It’s definitely something that, I guess for me personally, I haven’t had a lot of experience with before. I see myself more on the quiet side, outside of athletics. But I would definitely say I really appreciate it. Because I know you guys are busy, and other people are busy. So the fact that attention is being brought to our team, and just women’s sports in general – we’re all really grateful for the time that you guys spend with us.

Davina Kabantu ‘24: To add on that, it’s just good to see that it’s bringing joy to the rest of the campus – on campus, but people in the community too, the Lewiston community coming together for our team.

How are you balancing school and everything else? Especially because both of you are currently doing your theses.

Kabantu: Being in this situation right now, personally, it’s good, because it forces me to be on top of my work and be productive before practice and before travel. Thanks to the professors who are understanding of the situation right now, and either giving us an extension or, understanding we have to leave and excuse us from classes. I think this helps me manage my classwork better than when I have all the time to procrastinate.

Kennedy: I think over the past four years, just being a student athlete at Bates, we’ve done a great job. Time management is a really big thing, and it’s always been a big thing for us, and something that we’ve always communicated to our teammates. So I think the time management skills that we’ve built all four years leading up to now have been really coming in clutch, and what Davina said, our professors have been awesome with understanding that there are some classes that we have to miss, especially with NCAA stuff. But, yeah, I mean, student athlete, baby.

How does your team dynamic affect your play and success as a team?

Kennedy: This year, we do have a younger team. That being said, we only have four upperclassmen, so three seniors and one junior, and I think this year, our leadership has been really important and preparing us and I think that we’ve done a really good job and everyone knows their role on the team. Everybody knows every single person on our team is so important, and contributes to so much of the success that we’ve had. For example, Petra [Kuncz ‘27], she just got cleared from a knee injury. So she hasn’t been able to play any games, but she has been able to play in practice. Even though she doesn’t play in games, she’s such a key part, why we’re at where we’re at now, because she makes our posts on our team, [Danielle Adams ‘26 and Elsa Daulerio ‘26], work so much harder in practice. And so yeah, that’s something that we’re always communicating to our teammates, about how important every single piece is. And if there’s anybody on our team that has a lapse of anything like that’s just really significant. So I think everyone’s done a really good job playing their role.

Kabantu: I think people feel like this group is a safe place to talk about anything. Trust is key here. And everyone is all in. We have no doubt that everyone loves basketball right now at the highest level. So that really makes a difference.

Some of the biggest stars in the last couple of years have been first-years and sophomores. How does that younger generation kind of add to the team and shape it into a success?

Kabantu: I think it just makes it easier that the freshmen coming in just blend in right away and are not really scared or being shy. They just came in and picked up the job right away and know what to do. And, you know, it makes us feel better that we are leaving the team in good hands. The future is bright. All the freshmen and sophomores, it feels like we’ve been together forever.

Kennedy: I’m just so proud of them. It’s very like coming like this is like our freshman year, we came in COVID. We didn’t have any games or anything. So looking at how we came in as freshmen versus how they’re coming in as freshmen now – there is a lot of pressure that comes with getting a lot of minutes in these really big games, especially in the tournament at the point now where if we lose, we’re done. And I’m just so proud of them to see that they’ve gone into it full force. They’re not scared. That’s one thing that’s our job as captains, is just to instill every bit of confidence that we can into them, because they’re amazing. And it’s just awesome to see them go out and do their things. Proud mom moment.

Who’s stepping up as a leader next year in your place? 

Kennedy: I think an obvious pretty obvious answer will be A-Rose [Alexandra Long ‘25]. She’s going to be a lone senior next year. And she has been a really key part in the glue of our team this year and she’s taken on a really big leadership role. I don’t know who’s going to be a captain next year, but I know A-Rose is going to be taking on a lot. They have six incoming freshmen next year, and that’s gonna be a big thing for her as the lone senior, but I think she’s prepared. And I also think that especially our freshmen and sophomores who have taken on larger roles this year, I think they’re prepared. I know they don’t want us to leave, but they’re a lot more prepared than they think they are. 

What do team discussions and pep talks look like in games and locker rooms?

Kennedy: We do have some tradition stuff that we do and we have a routine warm-up that we do every single day. So we’ll go in [the locker room] and we’ll talk with the coaches for a little bit, get a little game plan, and then go back out do more warm-up stuff, and then we come back and just have moments together. We have huddles throughout our warm-ups and stuff, but majority of what that is is just us telling each other, “Yeah, this is a big game, but also, we play basketball for a reason. One of those big reasons is because basketball is so fun, and we love basketball. And in this game, no matter what happens today, we’re gonna play together. We’re gonna play as hard as we can and we’re gonna have so much fun doing it.”

Kabantu: We just take that moment to go back, us 12, and just pour positive positivity into each other and just soak the moment in, and just have fun. We play basketball for a reason. Everyone has played basketball since they were kids, and let’s just have fun and trust each other and lift each other up. 

What’s your relationship with head coach Alison Montgomery like, and what does she offer to the team?

Kennedy: I’m not familiar with how a lot of programs are run on campus, but I have nothing but great things to say about our coach. She has meetings with us very often. We meet with her every week for captains meetings. We also meet with her every week for leadership meetings. She’s taught me personally a lot about basketball. But she’s also taught me a lot about off-the-court things too. I think she’s a very good role model. Coming from Oklahoma, I was really nervous to make this big step all the way to Maine. But she’s like my mom away from home. It’s good to have someone like that in your corner. Even if I do something wrong, I know she’s got my back all the way.

Kabantu: I like the way, this year, she handed us this team, and she’s trusted us that we’re capable enough to take care of the team. And that trust is really important. Like Morgan said, she’s amazing. She’s not just a basketball coach, but she also gives you good advice, like just life lessons and stuff like that. And just like Morgan said, she has your back no matter what. It’s really lucky to have someone like that, who really cares about you on many different levels, not just performing on the court or being a basketball player, but also just being her friend, or her kid.

Morgan, you are one of the leaders in scoring. How are you passing that on and making sure that there are still going to be team leaders in scoring?

Kennedy: On the tangible basketball side of things, I’m pushing my teammates as hard as I can in practice. I definitely do put that pressure on them in the sense of, we need you to step up. But on the flip side of that, what I try to do every day is just tell my teammates, you can score. Also, a big thing that we talk about is the 95 percent rule in basketball: only 5 percent of the game is affected by scoring, there are 95 other things that you can do, like rebounding and stuff. I always try to tell my teammates, just let the game come to you. Every now and then on the court, if somebody messes up, I’ll just come over to them and say, “Forget about it, next play, next play.” I tell them, just believe in yourself because your whole team believes in you. Coach believes in us. Our teammates believe in us. If you just believe in yourself, a lot more will happen. You’re capable of a lot more than you think you’re capable of.

Davina, how are you passing along your defensive and offensive skills? You’re a team leader in rebounds.

Kabantu: I think it’s just training all my other teammates to just be confident. Rebounding…it’s not easy. You have to be strong. It’s just strategy. I call Sarah [Hughes ‘27], my little me because she has that spirit and courage to go get the ball and she’s just so strong. And I think they understand the assignment. I normally say that they don’t want to believe we’re leaving, but we are. I think they will be good because we make each other better every day in practice. I think they take notes on what we do, and I think they will apply it next year easily.

So aside from gameplay, what do you want to leave behind at Bates? What do you want your legacy to be?

Kabantu: I think just leaving people knowing that they can have all the confidence in the world, and nothing can shake them and they can get everything. Work hard, believe in what you’re doing, and anything can happen.

Kennedy: What I would like to leave behind is everybody using their voice. It sounds silly, but a big part of the game is communication. I’m definitely more like the quiet side, but you would never know that if you just watch me play basketball. Using your voice is just so important. And it just takes you to different levels that you wouldn’t even understand until you did it. It gives yourself confidence, it gives your teammates confidence. Especially for people who are stepping up into those leadership roles next year, like I just want them to use their voice. My teammates hear from me every day: If I don’t hear you talking on the court, you’re gonna hear from me. 

How do you feel about the huge fan section? What does that feel like as you’re playing? 

Kennedy: I’m just really grateful. It’s awesome to see a lot of our friends, professors, even some custodians in my dorm building come and I’m just so grateful to just see people show up for us like that. We talked about it a lot, like, yeah, we’re playing for each other, but we’re also playing for the name on our chest and our community. The booing and stuff – I think it’s hilarious. I love to see how much they care about us. They care enough to take time out of their day, all put on the same shirts, and get there early to get a good seat. They care enough to be loud the entire game and just cheer us on – I’m super grateful. 

Kabantu: It’s just amazing…sometimes I can’t even hear myself thinking. I feel bad for the other team, but I don’t. I love it here, when everybody shows up and to see all the teams on campus come to support you. It creates a good relationship with other teams too. Spring is coming, lacrosse will be playing and we will be there to support them. 

Who’s your biggest fan (that’s not on the team)?

Kennedy: Don. I’ve never played a game in Alumni without him being there. He’s the man who does the “Give me a ‘B’!” All three years that we’ve played – because we didn’t play our freshman year – I’ve seen him every single home game. I don’t care if there’s one person in the stands or like 50, he’s there the whole time. Then after every game, when he comes over to our team, he does [his B-A-T-E-S chant].

Kabantu: He is that one person where if he’s not there, you will notice.

Kennedy: He’s got his own little spot right across from the bench, front row.

What is your philosophy on sportsmanship?

Kabantu: It’s a big thing for me; we talk about it a lot. Yes, we’re competing but we still show respect to the other team no matter where we’re at. I think we have good body language and that speaks volumes, and I think it can make a difference whether you win or lose. I think that’s something really huge for us. 

Kennedy: [Because of] where we’re at in the season right now, we’re going to expect to see everyone’s best – it’s do or die right now. A lot of seniors are fighting for their basketball careers. We’re always going to be bringing that respect from here on out just because sweet sixteen is the top 16 teams left in the country. 

We also talk a lot about the Basketball Gods. If you bring that bad vibe and bad mojo, disrespecting the other team and disrespecting the game, then maybe some of your shots won’t go in. So we’ve just got to put good energy out there, always.

Now that the season is over, how is the team moving forward and how do you expect to lead them into their next season?

Kennedy (via text): We are sad, but also proud of ourselves and how far we have come this season. I plan to always be there to support my teammates. Something that is so special about this program is how close our alumni are. I look forward to not only being a part of the alumni circle but also to see how my teammates continue to play and create their own legacies to pass down.

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Carly Philpott
Carly Philpott, Assistant News Editor
Carly is a first-year from Centennial, Colo. The Student was a major reason she chose Bates after a longtime love for journalism. You can find Carly at the Bates Historical Society or taking photos of ducks on the Puddle for the Bates Communications Office. She also enjoys quality time with her pet toads, pictured.
Catalina Passino
Catalina Passino, Managing Features Editor
Catalina is a sophomore from Leesburg, Virginia. She plans to major in Psychology and minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Outside of her studies, Catalina dabbles in baking, basketball, and frolicking. During her freshman year, Catalina began as a contributing writer and later became a staff writer for the Bates Student. Though she is now in features, she also enjoys the news and forum sections.
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