Bates Bobcast Episode 152: Bobcats making the most of opportunities

This week we're talking to a pair of Bates juniors who are making a big impact with increased playing time on their respective teams. Plus, men's golfer Julien Lewin achieved a goal he's been working toward since the first day he stepped on campus. And we introduce you to new Assistant Athletics Director Jess Duff. All that and more, on the Bates Bobcast!

Interviews this episode:

  • 1:10 -- Olivia McCulloch '21, Volleyball (Female Bobcat of the Week).
  • 8:21 -- Julien Lewin '20, Men's Golf (Male Bobcat of the Week).
  • 15:48 -- David Goodstein '21, Men's Soccer.
  • 22:30 -- Jess Duff, Assistant A.D. for Student-Athlete Services & Internal Operations.
  • 29:34 -- Malik Hall, Head Coach, Football.

Bobcast Transcript

Aaron: This is the Bates Bobcast! Our weekly podcast where we take a look at the week that was, in Bates athletics. My name is Aaron Morse and this week we’re talking to a pair of juniors who are making a big impact with increased playing time on their respective teams. Plus, men’s golfer Julien Lewin achieved a goal he’s been working toward since the first day he stepped on campus. And we introduce you to new Assistant Athletics Director Jess Duff. All that and more, coming up on the Bates Bobcast! 

Aaron: The No. 14 nationally ranked Bates field hockey team defeated Husson 5-1 on Tuesday before falling in a tight battle with No. 5 Tufts by a score of 3-2 on Saturday. Bates is 5-2 overall and 2-2 in NESCAC action, heading into a big week where the Bobcats square off with Babson, Middlebury and Trinity, all at home on Campus Ave. Field. 

Aaron: The volleyball team picked up its first NESCAC win of the season Saturday when the Bobcats defeated Colby 3-0. Junior outside hitter Olivia McCulloch led Bates in a 1-2 week in both kills and digs. She had her fourth double-double of the season in Saturday's 3-1 loss to Springfield, with 11 kills and 27 digs. McCulloch ranks fourth on the Bobcats in kills per set, second in aces and second in digs. And she is our Female Bobcat of the Week!

Olivia: I've been playing volleyball since I was a little kid. Both my moms played volleyball, so I got to see them playing in their adult league when I was young. And so I started in, I think, the fifth grade, and then continued throughout high school and wanted to play at the collegiate level. So I was primarily looking at NESCACs, and when I came and visited Bates, I just knew. Like the moment I stepped on campus.

Olivia: I know that sounds cliche, but really it was like the only campus that really resonated with me, and I just loved the team and the dynamic of the team and the coach and the Bates volleyball program.

Aaron: And this is your third year in the program now. And so what's the development like for you? Obviously, you're getting a lot more playing time this year and having a lot of success.

Olivia: Yeah. So I definitely was primarily a bench player the past two years. So having the opportunity to get on the court this year has been really exciting, and it still kind of feels surreal that I can be an impact player, because the past two years I've watched my teammates be those impact players, and yeah, so it's really exciting having my hard work in the off-season and then practices pay off this year.

Aaron: The match I went to against University of Southern Maine a couple weeks back, you had like 11 aces or something like that. And what's the key to a great serve to get those aces?

Olivia: Yeah, so what I like to do with some of my teammates is have serving competitions in practice, and just getting those reps before or after practice can make a really big difference, because serving is really the only skill in volleyball that's primarily yours to control. So it's a really good skill to work on in your free time.

Aaron: Yeah, absolutely. Volleyball, it's all about working with your teammates and whatnot. You as an outside hitter, what's it like working with setter Julia Panepinto, what she's been able to do?

Olivia: She's awesome. Her skill is the one thing, it's great, but also just her energy and her presence on the court is amazing. Like the look she gives me after I get a kill, it fires me up, so I want to get another one, and if I don't get one or if I miss a hit, she's like, "Next one, next one," and just really pushes me to keep going. And once we started to get that connection of the set to the hit, and then producing the kill in the games, it was something that was really exciting to see, and to be a part of this year.

Aaron: How about the progression of the team in general? I mean Melissa is in her fifth year, every year the team has been increasing the wins total, and it seems like you're on your way doing that again this season.

Olivia: Yeah. So we're nine and four this season, and we could have won all those games, which it's a bummer that we didn't, but at the same time, they have all been like learning opportunities for us, so I think the next step is just knowing that we can beat Amherst, and we can beat Middlebury, and then coming into that game and staying the whole time, knowing that we can come out on top, and I think we will. And so I think the rest of the season definitely looks good for us.

Aaron: Well, speaking of that, you have Back to Bates weekend this weekend. Couple of big NESCAC matches, right? Conn. College Friday, a tough Wesleyan team, I know, on Saturday. What are your thoughts on these two opponents coming out?

Olivia: I think that we are all really excited. Conn., I think, will be a really fun game. There are no other Friday night games who are hoping to get a big crowd out there, and all of our parents are coming. And then Saturday, Wesleyan has always been a big rivalry team for us. We know a lot of the players on the teams from high school, and they're also a really strong team. And so I think that will also be a really exciting game, and hopefully coming out with the two wins this weekend.

Aaron: So being from Massachusetts, being from New England, how often do you run into old high school opponents or teammates when you're playing?

Olivia: Pretty often, actually. I know a couple of people on some of the NESCAC teams, and also some of the out of conference teams that we play. I know a few of those teammates, as well, from high school. But yeah, my friends from California I would say know that most people, for sure in NESCAC.

Aaron: Right. And then what's Coach DeRan like, in terms of helping you grow your game?

Olivia: She's been crucial. I think one of the biggest things is like I said, being a bench player these past two years, and then having the opportunity this year shows that she doesn't give up on her players, and she pushes us to work hard and even if you're not on the court all the time, you can work hard in practice, you can push to make the starting line better.

Olivia: So that's what I've been doing these past two years, and because of that and her constant feedback, not just to the starting line up but to the whole team, helps to create players who progressively get better throughout college and can make an impact come in their junior and senior year.

Aaron: In what specific ways have you seen yourself get better, you think, from year to year?

Olivia: Yeah. I think one of the biggest things this year has just been a shift in my confidence. Being an upperclassmen, I think, is a big part of it as well. But having that shift, and then knowing that I can be on the court, and I can make an impact definitely has improved my actual aspects of my skill on the court.

Olivia: So like having Gabi next to me in the back row, she pushes me so much, and having Ruby as the opposite outside hitter and seeing when she's in the front, get these big kills. And then so then when I get to the front, I want to make those big kills, too. It's having this increased confidence, and then also just trusting each other on the court has, I think, improved my game, too.

Aaron: And then your thoughts on the season so far, and what you're hoping to get out of it, this being your junior year.

Olivia: Yeah, so because it's my junior year, it's crazy. I only have two more seasons left, but I really think that a goal for me and for our team is to win the NESCAC tournament, get into the NCAA tournament, and just see how far we can go. We've fallen short in the NESCAC tournament the past two years that I've been here, in the first round. So getting to that final game and winning that, moving on, I think will be a big step for our team, and definitely a goal for us.

Aaron: All right. Olivia McCullough, Female Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.

Olivia: Thank you.

Aaron: The women’s golf team placed 10th at the Middlebury Invitational and the men’s golf team placed seventh at the NESCAC Fall Qualifier over the weekend. The top four teams at the NESCAC Fall qualifier get to compete in the spring at the NESCAC Championships. On top of that, the four players with the lowest scores not on qualifying teams also get the opportunity to win a conference title. And Bates senior captain Julien Lewin is one of them! He followed his 78 on Saturday with an even-par 72 on Sunday, tied for the fourth-best round on the day, to finish in a six-way tie for 12th place among 50 players overall. Lewin carded six birdies on Sunday to earn a spot in the NESCAC Championships this spring. And he is our Male Bobcat of the Week! 

Aaron: Male Bobcat of the Week, Julien Lewin here with us here on the Bobcast. We talked to you a couple of weeks ago, and this past weekend, NESCAC Fall Qualifier, facing off against the best golfers in the conference. And what a day for you on Sunday. What was clicking out there? Even par and six birdies along the way.

Julien: Yeah, thank you so much. I'm happy to be back. And I think the difference between Saturday and Sunday was just the intensity and the drive to actually get into this tournament. And be part of the NESCAC championships that I've wanted to be for for four years now. And so coming into Sunday I was locking down really and making sure everything was going right, and put in some music before the round, try to enjoy the good weather and all of that, but really focused on what needed to get done and be strategic in course management.

Aaron: And par fives were obviously your forte. What made them such birdie-able holes that day?

Julien: The first hole of the course was a the par five, 460 yards or so. So I was able to birdie that. It's a pretty short par five, relatively, compared to other courses. So that sort of set me up for good success within the next few holes of the round. And I think just really focusing on being in the fairway on those par fives, and getting onto the green or near the green in two, because my putting was locked in for the entire day. So I knew that if I was within 10 feet of the hole, I was likely to make the putt.

Aaron: In terms of warmups, you mentioned blasting some music, you have a chance to go to a range or a putting green. How does that go?

Julien: Yeah, so usually my pre-course warmup is going down to the range, hitting two shots per club out of my bag, pitching wedge, seven iron, five iron, sort of going up that way, and then going to the putting green and really going around all parts of the hole within three to four feet, and making sure that my inside of five foot range putts are really solid, and making sure that my stroke is there, because once the stroke is good, you can apply that to much longer putts.

Aaron: After the round's over, how did you find out that you'd qualified for the spring individually?

Julien: Yeah, so I was coming down in the gears, I was on hole 13, and I was three under at that point, which was pretty incredible. I kind of messed up a few holes here and there, but coming into 18 under, I was thinking this is really, really important. I need to make sure every shot counts. And unfortunately, I bogeyed, but 72 is a great round.

Julien: And so I was coming up, turning in my scorecard thinking, wow, it must be pretty close. In years past the scores were well higher than this for qualifying. So going around talking to the NESCAC people, making sure how many people qualify outside of those top four teams. Sort of just like looking through the scoreboard to see if that possibility would become an opportunity.

Aaron: Yeah. And do you have a reaction when you actually found out for sure, or was it kind of a gradual thing? Like, okay, I think I'm in.

Julien: I think I'm in, I think I'm in and I was talking to my friend's dad and he goes, "Well, I think you're in as well," and then the final results came out, I went "I'm in." It was pretty awesome. I was super happy. We were all driving back in the van, we started blasting some music. It was a pretty fun time.

Aaron: The tiebreaker is how you perform on Sunday, right? And for you, that was even par. So that was huge.

Julien: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Anyway, starting out at 78, I think I moved up 19 positions on the leaderboard to Sunday. So I knew coming into the round that it was important that I needed to perform, but it wasn't within expectations that I'd be shooting even par.

Aaron: Right, right. And the team itself, seventh out of 10, that's an improvement from the previous couple seasons, and now you've got Bowdoin and Colby again this weekend, trying to outscore them again, I suppose.

Julien: Yeah, as a captain on the team, I'm super, super happy with our results, and especially happy with a few key individuals who haven't really had the ability to perform yet within the year. But really made that difference this past weekend. So I'm super happy for Preston and Jack, and also Patrick. They sort of struggled to get those low rounds, and they really locked in, and I think they figured out sort of the difference between what they need to do and actually getting it done. So I'm super happy for them and the team. And this is one of our best finishes. So I'm excited to compete against Colby and Bowdoin this upcoming weekend in the CBB.

Aaron: Yeah. What's the rest of the fall like, because like that was the NESCAC qualifier, and now you've got a few more tournaments though, right?

Julien: Yeah, so we have the CBB, we have the Colby Classic, which is a six hole scramble, best ball, and then alternate shot, which is a pretty fun one. And then we also have the Captains Course tournament, which is down in Cape Cod. So that's our final round for the season.

Julien: So I think for me, I'm going to step back a little bit this weekend and enjoy parents' weekend. My parents are coming up and really focusing on the last Captains Course tournament, because that's where a lot of the really solid D2 and D3 teams come, and then spend the winter practicing, using the awesome practice facility we have, the simulator, the putting green to really warm up and perform in the spring.

Aaron: Yeah. It's funny, because you do have a whole winter to think about what's coming up, right? That's kind of interesting.

Julien: Yeah, it is. I've never been in a situation where I've been able to think about what the forecast of a four-month golf tournament might be like. So I think I'll probably spend some time not thinking about the golf tournament, but one it gets closer, start figuring out where I need to improve, and then once the weather starts getting better, move from the practice facility to the actual on course practice.

Aaron: This past weekend was another course you hadn't played before, right? How did it end up playing? I mean, it seems like to your liking a little bit, huh?

Julien: Yeah, definitely. I think the practice run Friday really helped. And I think that was a key part of why I did so well. And just being comfortable going out on the course, because at Taconic, I mean this isn't to blame, but I didn't have a practice round. That made it sort of difficult, and thinking about every shot, and sort of the technique for how that shot needs to happen, when going on there without having a practice round.

Julien: So I felt pretty fluid, even on Saturday, just having a general layout of the course. And I think even though it was a new course, I looked it up on Google Maps as I said before, and sort of looked at the yardages, and trying to figure out what course management would look like, in terms of what clubs I might pull on certain holes, and just getting a general feel for how it might play.

Aaron: Did I see that on Instagram, your practice round was with Coach Fall?

Julien: It was with Coach Fall. It was pretty fun to play with him. I didn't beat him, but it was a close match.

Aaron: Oh, so you kept score, went head to head there?

Julien: Yeah, we kept score. Had to have that. He had an eagle, I didn't have an eagle, but it all turned out to be okay.

Aaron: Excellent. Any other thoughts on the past weekend and the season so far?

Julien: The season so far I'm pretty happy overall, and I think the team's starting to come together and really be serious about the game of golf, and seeing that we have a new head coach and new practice facility and a lot of new opportunities to come with Bates golf.

Julien: I'm actually heading to a recruit lunch after this, so I'm excited to talk with him about my experience on the golf team, and I'm really looking forward to the spring season that we'll have, and our first spring trip, which will be really fun, and hopefully setting in stone a better tomorrow for the next generation of Bates golfers.

Aaron: Julien Lewin, qualifying for the NESCAC spring championships. Thanks so much. Male Bobcat of the Week.

Julien: Thank you so much.

Aaron: The men’s soccer team won easily at Husson on Wednesday by a final score of 7-1. Then they battled defending NCAA Champion and No. 1 nationally ranked Tufts to double overtime on Saturday before falling 1-0 to the Jumbos. Junior captain David Goodstein made five saves on the afternoon. In his first year as a starter, Goodstein ranks sixth in the conference in save percentage and goals against average. 

Aaron: Fun season so far, got to be for you, right? After hardly playing your first two years, you've stepped in, you've been named one of the captains, you're starting every match, and playing all of it in goal. What's this experience been like so far, your junior year?

David: Yeah, it's been very fun. Definitely being appointed to captain was kind of a last second thing. My good friend Tony went down with an injury right before the season started. I've been lucky enough to be chosen to fill in for him, and try and help our other two captains, Blaise and Peder, with all the roles that we have to do as captains.

David: And yeah, playing this year is very, very exciting. I'm glad that I can step in and do the job for the boys. The guys in front of me have been doing a great job this whole season protecting me. I've only had to make a couple plays, and yeah, I'm just glad that I can go and do the job for the guys. Yeah.

Aaron: Most recently, that Tufts match, I mean that was a pretty epic battle, double overtime, obviously disappointing finish, but what was it like going toe-to-toe with the defending national champs?

David: Yeah. The reason I came to Bates was to play in those big games against the biggest teams in the country. So it was fun to finally get out there and test my skills against the best teams in the country. And I thought we played them, we played Conn. early in the season, who's also nationally ranked, and I think we might not only played with them but outplayed them at times. And I think that's very telling for where this program's going, and I think we're going to do some big things this year.

Aaron: So for the past two years, when you weren't getting as much playing time, what were you doing in practice every day to get better, to prepare for this moment?

David: Yeah. I always have the attitude where every day you can improve your game and get better at it. So every day I just tried to get better at a certain thing, and push the guys ahead of me up. And now this year, now that I've gotten my chance to play, it's the same thing. Just trying to get better every day.

Aaron: Growing up, a lot of kids obviously play soccer from a young age. When did you start to get real serious about it, and also playing goalkeeper specifically?

David: Yeah, both my parents played soccer, so I started playing at two or three, at the rec league down the street. I was a striker back in the day, and then when the kids started to grow and get a little faster, I didn't get too much faster. So they stuck me in goal and I was pretty good at it. So I just kind of stuck with it.

David: About seventh grade is when I really started playing seriously. I switched to goalkeeper full time, and yeah, it's been a great ride ever since.

Aaron: How did you decide to come up from Maryland to college to Bates?

David: Well I always wanted to use soccer to get into the best academic school I possibly could, and so the NESCAC seemed like a pretty good landing spot for me, even though I was a little bit out of region, and my parents did a great job getting me up to camps and whatnot, and in front of the college coaches at the showcases, and yes, Stu, the old coach, gave me a shot here, and yeah, hopefully I can do him proud this year.

Aaron: I know Stu, obviously at Dartmouth now, still following the team, though. What's Coach Tyler been like, taking over, starting last season?

David: Yeah, I've been very happy playing for Tyler. Stu was a great coach. I'm very lucky he gave me this opportunity. But yeah, Tyler's come in and kind of has just a new like fresh set of eyes on the program, and has tightened a lot of screws, and I think we're really ready to take a big step forward this year under Tyler.

Aaron: Fall camp is fairly short before you get to play your first match, was it a battle for the starting goalkeeper spot, or how did that even go?

David: Yeah, well the other two keepers, Linde and Manning, who, great keepers, I feel like they would start and do a job at any other NESCAC school. They're very good keepers. I feel like we've got a really good vibe between the three of us going this year. We get in good work at practice, and I feel like it was definitely a battle. I feel like nothing was handed to me since I've been here, and they pushed me every day in training. Lucky to have those guys.

Aaron: For those who don't know, in your opinion, what's the, what's one of the biggest keys to being a successful goalkeeper?

David: Goalkeeper? I'd say goalkeeping is 90% mental. You just have to be locked in all the time. The difference between playing goalkeeper and the other positions is any outside back can take a bad touch, and it just goes out for throw in. But if you're a goalkeeper, and you make a mistake, everyone can tell, you cost your team a goal. So yeah, it's all mental.

Aaron: I saw you make a kick save against Tufts. Take us through that play. That was a little chaotic, it seemed like.

David: That was a pretty crazy play over to my right. Yeah, the ball, there was so many just crazy bounces in the box, and the boys ahead of me, the whole game had just been throwing themselves in front of shots, and that one just snuck through, and hit me in the foot, lucky enough.

David: And then Liam, our left back, Liam Goldfarb made a crazy block, when he was on the ground on the second shot, deflected off him, went out for a corner. So yeah, Liam had a great game this weekend.

Aaron: Definitely seemed like that. It doesn't show up in the box store, but-

David: Liam blocked... The whole back four blocked like dozens of shots the whole game. They put in an absolute shift. Very proud of them.

Aaron: The team this year, it's a big roster. What's that been like, all these first-years coming in?

David: Yeah, it's been fun. The fresh blood is very fun. It's definitely a big challenge for me as a captain to logistically get these guys to all the team functions. It's a good time. I love those guys. Some good players, too. And yeah, the program's on the up.

Aaron: So what was Coach Tyler's message to the team? Obviously, it was disappointing the way the Tufts match ended, but you obviously, the team played pretty well.

David: Yeah, that was a tough finish, and I feel like it was good that we really showed we could play with any team in the country, and I feel like we outplayed Tufts for some pretty decent chunks of that game. So the biggest takeaway from that game was we got to get six points next weekend. We put in a good performance this weekend, but we still got zero points out of it. And now our attention goes straight to Middlebury, Trinity, at home this weekend. Big two games in the NESCAC and we need to get all six points.

Aaron: Middlebury in men's soccer is a pretty strong rivalry.

David: Oh yeah. Get a nice trophy if we beat Middlebury. So that's always fun. It's always a little extra with the trophy on the line.

Aaron: On Back to Bates weekend, pretty exciting. Are your parents going to be coming up and whatnot?

David: Yeah, my parents will be here. Always a nice crowd on Back to Bates weekend. Love playing in front of a crowd. So hopefully we'll put on a nice show and get two wins this weekend.

Aaron: What are your thoughts on this being your first year of really getting significant minutes and what's the season been like so far? What are you most looking forward to this weekend and beyond?

David: Obviously, when you come here, you don't expect to see yourself sitting on the bench watching your boys play every weekend. But it was definitely an adjustment. I'm glad that I went through it. It made me a better man, and I'm glad that this year I can step in and just do my job, help the boys get a win this weekend.

Aaron: The Bates Department of Athletics has been making some key hires in recent months. Director of Athletics Jason Fein tabbed Jess Duff to serve as Bates’ new Assistant A.D. for Student-Athlete Services & Internal Operations. She began her new position last month and this week the former Wellesley volleyball and basketball star joined the Bobcast.

Jess: My job at MIT and my time at MIT was incredible, and I learned so much from the people that I worked with and worked for, under Julie Soriero, who was an incredible mentor, still is an incredible leader, and I was really fortunate to work in that environment. But I felt like I was ready to take the next step in my career. And it was important that I find a place that really aligned with my own personal values.

Jess: And I told Jason and Celine this on my job interview, but the job description had the term commitment to social justice in it. And I have never seen that in any sort of athletics job description. And that, to be honest, was the first thing that kind of stuck off the page. Something that I am committed to personally, and try to integrate that into all the work that I do. But the fact that it was noted here at Bates here within the department was definitely appealing, and made me look further into Bates College and the athletics department.

Jess: I knew Jason before. I had met him previously, and knew that he was a great leader. He was doing some really good things, and it was really exciting to think about the prospect of being involved in sort of a transition period and making some really great changes. And the potential for Bates is so large. And just to be a part of that, I think, is really exciting.

Aaron: So what is your role here, for people who don't know?

Jess: Yeah, so my official title is Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Services and Internal Operations. To be honest, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what that means, but I think my role will really be to connect with campus partners, and to make sure that athletics is collaborating with the greater campus, making sure that there is a direct line of communication.

Jess: And I also am excited about the opportunity of potentially integrating or implementing a student athlete leadership program. And that's something that I had the opportunity to do at MIT, and would love the opportunity to do here, sort of in collaboration with Becky who oversees student athlete programming. So that's exciting.

Jess: I'm also really looking forward to bringing in the equity and inclusion piece of it. I think this campus does an amazing job of keeping that at the forefront of their mission and their values, and so I want to continue to be able to have the athletics be at the forefront of that as well.

Aaron: I know you're a former college athlete yourself, tell us about that experience of playing two sports.

Jess: Yeah. I originally went to Wellesley College only playing volleyball. I was recruited as a volleyball student athlete, and once I got to campus, like many division threes, there's an opportunity to sort of walk on and spoke with the basketball coach, and to this day, it was honestly the best decision that I've ever made.

Jess: My best friends were on the basketball team. I still am in contact with them. I learned a lot from being a two-sport athlete, a lot about what I should do and what I shouldn't do. And my time management was better when I was in season. So while it was a lot, certainly, I was actually better academically when I was in season, than when I wasn't.

Aaron: Great. And then you have prior experience in the NESCAC having been a grad assistant at Tufts, right? Is the NESCAC different from other D3 conferences? What do you notice similarity, differences-wise in this conference compared to where Wellesley is or whatnot?

Jess: Yeah, I think it goes without saying that the NESCAC is probably the top league in division three in the country. So to be able to say that you work in a NESCAC is amazing. And the opportunities that you have to compete at the highest level to really interact with really great coaches and administrators and student athletes is incredible.

Jess: And I will say that I've been lucky enough to be at institutions where I've gotten to do that as well. Outside of the NESCAC, MIT was in the NEWMAC, Mount Holyoke in the NEWMAC, and then Wellesley is obviously in the NEWMAC. And I think it's something that we see the NESCAC, and we try and strive to provide that championship experience for the student athletes as well. But yes, definitely something to strive toward.

Aaron: And then what are your impressions of the student athletes here at Bates so far, compared to MIT? A little bit different institutions, I would imagine.

Jess: Yeah. They're definitely a different kind of student athlete, but I have been pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed with the kindness that the student athletes here have shown. I've had the opportunity to meet small groups of student athletes and even on my first day had a softball student athlete, Kirsten, stopped by and just introduced herself. And I think that's been really refreshing to see that they are so open to new people, and they've been really kind and welcoming. So I'm appreciative of that.

Aaron: Mentioned a couple of your initiatives here, but what are some maybe other goals you have in mind for what will make a successful first year here at Bates as an assistant athletics director?

Jess: My very first goal in coming here was to be able to build those relationships, not only within the department but across campus. So that's really important for me to do right now. I'm reaching out to a lot of different people, and just trying to make that connection, figure out ways that athletics can collaborate or partner with different offices.

Jess: So that is definitely my main goal for the first kind of semester, 90 days, is just to really get to know people and build relationships. I think once I do that, I'll be able to sort of figure out where I fit into the greater student athlete population, what I need to do to help support them, knowing that I have established relationships with different offices and people across campus.

Aaron: Great. Jess Duff, thanks so much, and welcome to Bates.

Jess: Well, thank you very much.

Aaron: On the 5th quarter this week, we look back at the football team’s tough 48-12 road loss to Weslekyan on Saturday and look forward to this Saturday’s Back to Bates homecoming game against the Tufts University Jumbos with head coach Malik Hall.

Aaron: Coach, Wesleyan, obviously, always a tough opponent for anyone in the NESCAC, and it doesn't help when your quarterback's hurt and then your other quarterback gets hurt, too, right? Matt Golden had to step up and play probably more than he thought he'd have to at QB.

Malik: Yeah. It goes back to it. It's hard to win first, I don't care what league you're in, what level, and it's even harder to win when you're not stable at the quarterback position right now. And being that right now we had to play a first-year, Liam Foley, who unfortunately did not have a good first pass, and got a sack fumble on a sprint out protection, which is tough. And now, his next series he gets sacked and driven into the ground two more times, and now you're in three quarters with a wildcat game plan.

Malik: You're always ready to break glass, so to speak. But I don't think you're ever ready to break glass in the first quarter. And though we know that that could potentially happen, we did not anticipate it happening that fast. But with that being said, Matt Golden came in, and being that we were an option team prior to getting here, we knew he was comfortable with handling the ball from the quarterback position.

Malik: And so we're just leaning into what our seniors have done prior to us getting here and letting them carry the bulk of that load, because unfortunately, we have a junior quarterback who may or may not return. We have a sophomore quarterback who's out indefinitely. For how long, who knows? And we have our first-year quarterback who, unfortunately, first game, he got beat up pretty bad. So right now we're just trying to regroup and make the best of our circumstance, and to put a product out there that the Bobcat family can be proud of.

Malik: And right now that's the only goal, because if we can put a product together and be competitive, we can be in a fourth quarter and win the game. Right now we're not getting the games in the fourth quarter, which a year ago that was our goal, was just getting the fourth quarter and find out. Out of nine games, we hit six of those goals, in those games.

Malik: This year was to win the fourth quarter, but being that injuries have taken a toll on our roster. We have to regroup, go back to the drawing board, because I still think we have enough to be competitive and if we can get the games in the fourth quarter to find out if we're good enough to win those games. Right now, at three games, we only been in the fourth quarter with one of them, and that was Amherst.

Malik: And then the prior two games we were in a freshman quarterback mode and our experienced backup is out. So when you talk about hard to win, like you can do all the right things. I think all of our quarterbacks worked extremely hard in our off-season to be prepared, but I don't know that anyone prepared to have Matt Golden as our primary ball holder. And so be that as it may, we have to be able to adjust and improvise, and still be competitive. And that's the goal.

Aaron: What are your thoughts on Jaason Lopez? He had a touchdown against Wesleyan, he's a guy who had a rough first game with the fumbles, but it seems like he's picked himself up and doing pretty well.

Malik: Yeah. He still has some ball handling issues a little bit, but again, it's about getting up when you're down. And three fumbles the first game that's down, and for him to continue to plug away at it, he did fumble it again, but he recovered it, and he was able to get a touchdown along with he and Matt Golden.

Malik: Everyone has some demons that they have to exorcise, so to speak. And during the week is your opportunity to be confident in your ability to exorcise those demons on Saturday. And so he works extremely hard. He hasn't played a meaningful game since probably high school, as primary ball carrier. So getting him back into the fold though, we want to matriculate him into it to where he can handle the load. It's a process for him as well.

Malik: But I was glad to see that he rebounded. His energy is awesome on the field. He is as verbal and vocal and positive as you want. But he's also hard on himself with mistakes, and that's not a bad thing. It's only a bad thing when you lose your poise along the way.

Aaron: So your opponent this weekend, switching over to the other side of the ball, Tufts, on offense, looking at the stats, they throw the ball well, they've struggled running the ball a little bit this year. Defensively, what has the team been focused on? Obviously Wesleyan had some success there in the first half, but what are you looking at for the defense to improve on week to week?

Malik: I think right now we got to make teams drive the field. If you look at the Wesleyan, first series of the Wesleyan game, we go one, two, three, Bruce Lee, they punt the ball. Then the next series, a turn over and we give up a touchdown. We have to be able to withstand the counter punch that our offense is going to get, because we're inexperienced at quarterback, because we're a ball control offense now.

Malik: Not being able to throw the ball downfield, they have to be okay with playing some lights out defense, and that's not necessarily stifling people. That's just not letting people get easy touchdowns. And I'm under the belief that the average offense can only put together six plays before making a mistake.

Malik: And every scenario that we've made on defense, goes six plus plays, they made their mistake, and we didn't make them pay for it. Whether it's they thrown an interception that we dropped, whether they fumbled the ball that we didn't pick up, Wesleyan, we did not make them drive the field. And being that Tufts throws the ball 60% of the time, like our secondary has to show up. We can apply all of the pressure we want, but when that ball gets in the air, everyone sees it and everyone knows that that's where we've been struck at so far.

Aaron: Back to Bates weekend, excited to see a lot of alums come up for homecoming here?

Malik: Yeah, I'm excited. I think whenever you come back home after a tough loss, it's good to be home. It's good to be in front of your family. The confidence may not be high right now, but that's what we got to work on throughout the week, because right now, if our confidence is down, the only way you can become more confident is through working out the kinks in the game plan, working out the kinks and your technique, and continuing to double down on getting better at the end of the day.

Malik: I don't believe that we've taken the steps necessary after Amherst, regardless of circumstance and injury. I think the games that we've been in the past two weeks are not indicative that the team that we have, and we have to fix that.

Aaron: Well, if you had to have a fourth string quarterback play, Matt Golden is a strong leader, right? He's going to keep the guys focused.

Malik: And that's the beautiful thing about Matt. He's a senior, he seen a lot. He's played some tight end, he's played some fullback, he's played some tailback, he's played some quarterback. And so if you want a guy that leads you down the field, he's the guy that can lead you down the field. And that's just being a good decision maker, relying on his instincts and his experience.

Malik: And so it took us a while to get it rolling, and it may be the same, but in the process of us getting it rolling, our defense has to be a little more responsive, and a little more patient for our offense mentally, because we're all out there together. But they can't let it mentally attack them, because now our offense, this lack of moving the ball is attacking them, and the offense that they're playing against is attacking them. We can't defend two offenses, so mentally focused on the offense. We have to defend, not the offense that we run right now.

Aaron: All right, Malik Hall, thanks so much for joining us on the Bobcast. Appreciate it.

Malik: And again, it's a great day to be a Bobcat.

Aaron: It’s going to be an action-packed Back to Bates weekend! The men’s tennis team hosts the Wallach Invitational, the field hockey and women’s and men’s soccer teams welcome Middlebury and Trinity to campus, volleyball hosts Connecticut College and Wesleyan, and football squares off with Tufts. Plus, the cross country teams compete at the Maine State Meet, the women’s golf team heads to the NESCAC Fall Qualifier and the men’s golf team looks to take home the CBB title. Find the complete schedule at And we’ll recap it all, next time, on the Bates Bobcast!