Bates Bobcast Episode 161: Winter sports on the eve of final exams

As finals draw near, winter sports are just getting underway. The men's basketball team is 3-1. The women's basketball team is 2-3. And the swimming and diving teams look to defend their respective state titles this weekend. Get the inside scoop from the student-athletes themselves on the latest Bates Bobcast!

Interviews this episode:

  • 0:37 -- Kody Greenhalgh '20, Men's Basketball (Male Bobcat of the Week).
  • 6:26 -- Jenna Berens '23, Women's Basketball (Female Bobcat of the Week).
  • 12:04 -- Matt Charest '20, Hannah Johnson '20, Amy Duren '20, Swimming and Diving captains (Maine State Meet preview).

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 previewing the Maine State Meet for the Bates swimming and diving teams. Plus, our Bobcats of the Week come from the hardwood after some impressive performances on the road. That’s coming up, on the Bates Bobcast! 

Aaron: The Bates men’s basketball team defeated the University of Southern Maine last Tuesday on the road in Gorham by a final score of 71-68 behind a strong defensive effort that netted the Bobcats 16 steals, their most in one game against an NCAA Division III opponent since 2004. Seniors Kody Greenhalgh and Jeff Spellman led the way on offense, scoring 16 points each. Greenhalgh also grabbed four rebounds, dished out a game-high six assists and recorded four steals. In fact, his steal and bucket with four seconds left in the game sealed the win.

Aaron: After the Thanksgiving break, Greenhalgh got back to work Monday in a return to his home state of Rhode Island. The senior guard poured in a team-high 19 points and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double in an 82-74 victory over Johnson and Wales. Bates is off to a 3-1 start and through four games Greenhalgh is second on the team in scoring, and first on the team in rebounds and assists. And Kody Greenhalgh is our Male Bobcat of the Week!

Aaron: The University of Southern Maine, they were crawling back in that game. They're only down one with seconds to go and you get the steal and the bucket. Take us through that play.

Kody: I think there was about like 10, 12 seconds left. A kid drove, I thought he traveled so I was kind of like looking for that call. And then I was able to just jump the passing lane and I put it in for two. I don't know if I should have ran the clock out or not, but got the points, it was good. Then they had to make a heave and yeah, we ended up winning that game.

Aaron: Yeah. That was obviously a nail biter down the stretch. They had that one kid who was scored, I think, half their points. What was going on in the second half and in the huddle and talking things over?

Kody: Oh yeah, try to stop him. He's a good player. I don't know how much he had, like 30.

Aaron: 34, I think. Yeah

Kody: 34. Yeah, like one guy can't beat us like last night too Johnson & Wales, two guys had like 28 points. And if kids make tough shots, they make tough shots. But I don't think one or two kids can really hurt us.

Aaron: Let's talk about that Johnson & Wales game. Back in Rhode Island, your home state. What was that like?

Kody: Yeah, that was great. Having my family there, my mom, dad, brother and sister and some friends of mine. Actually some old coaches came too. So that was good for me. I was a little bit nervous going in, but I was able to knock down some shots and get the win, so, and that was good.

Aaron: Yeah, it helps the nerves a little when the shots fall early, right?

Kody: Oh yeah. Actually, we were all hot in the first half yesterday. So, that was good.

Aaron: Tell me a little bit about the steals you're getting this year or the team it's getting also, you seem to be very adept at jumping those passes. What do you see out there on defense?

Kody: I think I get that from football. I try to be a safety and reading what the offense is doing and try to just jump those passing lanes and playing with a lot of guards too so we could switch a lot of screens and switch a lot of stuff. So just trying to steal those, get those passing lanes and then get it out and transition.

Aaron: You touched on football, you've had an interesting career here at Bates. You've played some football, you've played some basketball. This year, made the decision just to focus on basketball. When did you make that decision and how has that helped you, you think?

Kody: I think the four guys, my roommates, the four seniors really pushed me to stick with basketball and this is the first year that I haven't like, I had a clean preseason, no injuries, and I wasn't playing football so I came into the season like I think more prepared myself.

Aaron: Well you touched on the seniors, right? I mean it's you, Nick Gilpin, Jeff Spellman, Tom Coyne. What's that dynamic like? Because you guys have had, you've done a lot at Bates and looking to build a culture, right?

Kody: Yeah. Like off-season lifts pickup. Like Jeff said in that last interview, nobody showed up to a lift late. You just see the work ethic changing around here. And I think it's good to do that for the younger guys so they know what to do in the upcoming years for the new guys coming in.

Aaron: The other three seniors are, you're all roommates, is that right?

Kody: Yeah, we all live together. So I think that helps as well. Like being around each other 24/7. Yeah, just like translates to the court.

Aaron: Well, give me an idea about those guys' personalities. Jeff, Tom, and Nick, how are they compared maybe to your personality?

Kody: I think we're kind of similar but everyone has their own style, I guess. But we're all like best friends so that really helps.

Aaron: Who's the loudest? Who's the most vocal?

Kody: The loudest, definitely Coyne.

Aaron: Coyne. Okay. Okay.

Kody: By far, yeah.

Aaron: Nice. And then speaking of the future of this program, how about Stephon Baxter, the first year guard. He was named Maine Rookie of the Week this week. That just came out today. What are you seeing from him so far? He seems to play with no fear out there.

Kody: Oh yeah, that's well-deserved award. Steph just brings the energy to the court. Like you said about those steals he's been getting some steals for us. And that's big for us on D. He can score the ball at the hoop, and he can shoot. And you saw that last night. He knocked down a couple of big three-pointers and he can get to the rim. He plays good D. Yeah, I love Steph, man.

Aaron: So this week, so good test for you, right? A road game at Bowdoin on Thursday and then a home game against a St. Joseph's team that has had some good years recently. What's the team's goals this week? Kind of thoughts on what you're looking to see from everybody, couple of non-conference games.

Kody: Oh yeah, I take it one game at a time. So, Bowdoin, I think they play like a different style than the last two teams we played. It was like last JWU and USM, they play more of a run-and-gun. I think Bowdoin tries to slow it down and run more of a like a set offense and so I think it will be well prepared for them. So I'm excited.

Aaron: Great. Any other thoughts on the season so far you want to share in terms of how it's been going? 3-1 so far.

Kody: Yeah. It feels good to win, be a part of a winning team. We put in the work and I'm just glad to see these guys coming out here and giving it all with me. So I'm proud of them.

Aaron: All right. Kody Greenhalgh, Male Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.

Kody: Thanks, Aaron.

Aaron: The Bates women’s basketball team fell at the University of Southern Maine by a score of 62-49 last Tuesday. Despite the loss, Bates had some excellent individual performances, with first-year forward Jenna Berens coming off the bench to tally eight points, seven rebounds, and most impressively, five blocked shots. After playing just 16 minutes in Bates’ first four games combined, Berens played 21 minutes at Southern Maine. And she is our Female Bobcat of the Week!

Aaron: Growing up in Connecticut, when did you start really getting into basketball and when did you decide you really wanted to play in college?

Jenna: I started getting into basketball when I was in sixth grade because all my friends were playing like before me and they seem to be having so much fun with it. So, like all right I want to join in all the fun now.

Aaron: What was the most interesting part about learning the game?

Jenna: Probably like the team camaraderie even from like such a young age because it started like with all my closest friends in elementary school were playing. So it just even made us closer, even back then.

Aaron: And then when you were in high school you obviously had success and you thought you could play in college. What made Bates the place you wanted to come play?

Jenna: I really liked Bates because I loved meeting with Coach Montgomery. She's awesome and meeting like my overnight here was my best overnight that I had. I loved it so much. I loved meeting all of my future teammates and everything. Really getting to know them.

Aaron: Interviewed Ariana Dalia on the other week and she mentioned the same thing, the overnight is so important. What about it made you like Bates so much, I guess?

Jenna: So my overnight here I really liked it because it was taken like really seriously in the terms of where academics was put first because it really stood out because I had my overnight, I think it was on a Sunday or Monday night. So it was when there was classes going on the next day. So I really got a vibe of what the classes were like, how much work goes into to preparing for the class the next day. It was like a really good difference that stood out to me compared to other schools.

Aaron: So, so far playing in college, biggest similarities, differences to high school?

Jenna: Probably the biggest difference is time commitment. It's a lot, much more time commitment. But similarities is it's like the same game you always fell in love with. So it's, yeah.

Aaron: And what's the team like so far? What's the dynamic like this year among the players? Because I know obviously you have a fellow you know forward Bri Gadaleta who's also a first year and then Taylor McVeigh. You three are obviously working together a lot, I'd imagine.

Jenna: Yeah we are. I'm like really close with both of them and it's just really awesome like getting to know each one of my teammates and really fostering those friendships.

Aaron: I saw on Tuesday against Southern Maine you block five shots in the third quarter alone. What was going on there, defensively?

Jenna: I was just like, "Get that outta here." I don't know, that's always like so fun. That's like one of my favorite things to do is just like smacking it out of the other team's hands. That's awesome.

Aaron: You're a six-footer, when did you start growing like that to become a forward in that role?

Jenna: So I had my growth spurt in middle school around like seventh or eighth grade. But believe it or not, I am the shortest one in my family.

Aaron: Oh, okay.

Jenna: My younger sister is almost 6'5".

Aaron: Wow. Does your family have a basketball background or your like your parents play or anything like that?

Jenna: No, only me and my sister and my cousin. We're like the only ones who play. But no one older than us has played before.

Aaron: You know, obviously you got to work with a lot of guards as well. How has that been going in terms of getting chemistry with your fellow teammates, like Meghan Graff and whatnot?

Jenna: Yeah, absolutely. We have great chemistry with all the teammates on our team just because we're with each other all the time. Especially for instance over Thanksgiving break when there was hardly anyone else on campus it's basically just like a week of team bonding because the only ones on campus. We do like everything together.

Aaron: What was it like to get those first collegiate points kind of out of the way and were you thinking about that? That was your first bucket?

Jenna: Yeah, I mean I was like so excited. You're always excited when the ball was in the basket but especially because I'm like, "Yeah, those are my first college ones. Those are special."

Aaron: Excellent. Then academically, what are the classes like so far here?

Jenna: They're pretty challenging. Not going to lie. It's definitely a step up from high school, like from what I'm used to, but it's pretty good, so far. The support from the professors is amazing and I feel like the biggest thing is time commitment. I have to spend a lot more time on homework and studying than I was used to for high school. So just being able to organize my time well, that's something I have to really focus on.

Aaron: Yeah, because you have finals coming up next week. Is that right?

Jenna: Yeah, finals is next week.

Aaron: Your thoughts on that?

Jenna: I'm a bit nervous, especially for my micro final because Econ is really hard. So, I mean all my classes are challenging but that's probably my most challenging class for me. So I'm going to really try to focus on that one and get a good grade.

Aaron: Have you thought about a degree or anything like that or a major?

Jenna: I want to be an Econ major.

Aaron: Econ major, okay.

Jenna: It's really important that I do well in that one. But yeah.

Aaron: Excellent. What are your thoughts on the season so far and three home games here this week coming up?

Jenna: Yeah, so I'm so pumped for the three home games. There's always like, we call alumni magic whenever we play on our home court. And I don't know, I'm just really enjoying it so far and everything that's been going on.

Aaron: Sounds good. Jenna Berens Female Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.

Jenna: Thanks so much.

Aaron: Tuesday’s game with Colby was postponed due to weather. The Bates women host Bowdoin Thursday at 7pm and the men and women host Saint Joseph’s Saturday in a doubleheader, with the women tipping off first at 2pm.

Aaron: The Bates swimming and diving teams look to win their fifth consecutive Maine State Meet titles this Friday and Saturday at Bowdoin. The Bobcats got off to a strong start this season with a pair of dual meet sweeps the weekend before Thanksgiving. 

Aaron: We got a trio of swimming captains with us here on the Bobcast. We got Matt Charest, Amy Duren, and Hannah Johnson joining us with the Maine State Meet this weekend. Matt, you're a senior. You're local. You're from Lewiston. What does this meet mean to you?

Matt: So the Maine State Meet, all the teams in Maine come together and have a great big meet. It's a big mid-season meet where we all suit up and get excited for some fast racing. This meet is huge for us. Getting to see what we can swim in-season and also suited up. It's a great breath of fresh air to see some fast times up on the board while we suit up. So, we're excited to swim super fast this weekend and hope to take down the rest of Maine.

Aaron: Excellent. Amy, you not only see obviously a Division 1 opponent like University of Maine, but you also see like Bowdoin, Colby, schools, you'll see again, right?

Amy: Yeah, exactly. So swimming against a D-1 school is really nice because we get some good competition and as Matt said, we get to suit up and the events are kind of run similar to our end championship meet, the NESCAC Championship meet. So, it's just some good practice and getting some good times up there is important because we'll have some good seeds into the end of the season meet.

Aaron: Hannah, over the years, any particular memories from the Maine State Meet that you recall right now in terms of memorable meets?

Hannah: I always remember freshman year how much fun we always have on deck. I think we bring a lot of spirit to the pool, especially compared to a lot of the other teams. I mean we take swimming very seriously, but we're not very serious on the deck so there's lots of dancing and cheering, which is always fun.

Aaron: Yeah, Matt. What is that atmosphere on the deck like because I know, I mean at least at Tarbell though, the meet I went to it's crowded but everyone's having a good time cheering on their teammates?

Matt: Yeah. I think cheering on our teammates is probably one of the most exciting parts of the meet. Being excited for like, "Whoa, this person just went this time. That's insane." I think cheering on our teammates is a great time and I think it's a great team bonding experience, especially getting that like NESCAC feel.

Aaron: Amy, you and Hannah co-captains for the women's team this year, what's the experience been like so far?

Amy: It's been a good experience so far. Lots of responsibilities. We have a great team though, a lot of women on the team, so it's pretty like we have a lot of depth on the team.

Aaron: How about the experience of being one of the captains with Amy this year?

Hannah: Yeah, it's been really positive. We're in the position where now we have to take on more responsibility. We have now talk in front of the team and get the team really excited. So, I definitely feel pressure doing that. But it's in a good way like forcing me to like get out of my comfort zone and really be supportive of the team.

Aaron: Yeah. Because the team there's a lot of first-years who have made immediate impact. And as a senior, one of the senior captains that must be nice to see, right?

Hannah: Yeah. And it's also like as a captain you have to put yourself back in the place of being a freshman. So I'm always thinking back of like, "Oh like what was I wondering freshman year? Like what was I thinking going into my first meet?" So it was really forcing me to be more reflective about my swimming, which has been really nice.

Aaron: And then Matt for you, your co-captains with Jem Bullock who has a class right now, but we'll get him on later this year. But Jem being from across the country and you been from Lewiston, that's an interesting dynamic, right?

Matt: Yeah. So actually Jem has some ties to Maine as well.

Aaron: Ah, okay.

Matt: I think his dad studied here in Maine and may originally be from Maine. So, we definitely kind of have that Mainer connection as well. But working with Jem has been great. He's super energetic, getting the team hyped up for for meets and I think we balance each other out really well and we've been doing great and we're excited for the year to come.

Aaron: Yeah, the year is kind of split up as we know in swimming you have these early meets, whether it be the dual meet you have with Wesleyan and Trinity and the Maine State Meet here. Then there's not time off certainly. But there's a training trip to Florida where no there's no official meets there. And then you come back in January. Amy, over the years, what has that experience been like, because I know obviously the training trip is so important to get those times faster come NESCACs?

Amy: Yeah. Training trip is my favorite part of the season because that's kind of when we're all the team bonding happens and you get to know the freshmen super well and you're spending a lot of time. So coming out of training trip like I think the team dynamics are awesome because of that bonding time. So that really gets us prepared for the upcoming months, January and when our championship is in February. So training trip really whips us into shape, getting us ready and then following that we have a taper. So that coming off of really high training into taper sets us up for a really good championship meet.

Aaron: I feel like the experience of swimming outdoors is something that you don't necessarily normally get during the regular season I suppose, right?

Hannah: Yeah, it's definitely nice to get out of the dark indoor pools and start swimming in the sun. Everybody always loves training in Florida and yeah. But as Amy said it really helps with team chemistry and moving on to the the big championship meet.

Aaron: Matt, I saw you nodding your head. Obviously you're agreeing with all this in terms of how important is the training trip. I wanted to know about growing up and going to swim camps at Bates and now actually there being a senior captain, could you have ever imagined like eight years old this would happen like this?

Matt: Yeah. So thinking back when I was younger, looking at Bates I was like, "Holy crap, this is a crazy really nice school and crazy fast team," and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. And now being a part of it and actually being able to lead as a captain means a ton to me. Being able to support my teammates and be there for people when they're in need of something is super satisfying to me. And I also think just being fast, on a fast team and being with fast swimmers around me is just so awesome. I can't even describe it.

Aaron: Amy, any other thoughts on the Maine State Meet this weekend? What you're most looking forward to seeing from not only yourself in the pool but your teammates being one of the captains.

Amy: Yeah, so the past few years since we've been here, we've taken the Maine championship, so I hope to see that again this weekend and just a bunch of fast swimming, some good times again going up for us to go get good seeds into the end meet. Also I really enjoy swimming with all the Maine schools because at the end of the meet, we all do our Maine cheer together. So I always enjoy seeing all of them before our big championship meet.

Aaron: What's the Maine cheer?

Amy: We all go on our hands and knees and splash in the water and spell out Maine. A clap and a splash and, "Go Maine." It's the best state.

Aaron: Nice. Well, we've talked about Matt's background but Hannah, I'm curious about you and Amy's background. Growing up, when'd you start swimming competitively? Because everyone like, swims, right? When did you start swimming competitively and when did you decide Bates was a place for you?

Hannah: Yeah, I started swimming really early. I think when I was in like Kindergarten, I started to swim competitively doing those like little minnow meets or whatever. Then once I started to look at schools, I really wanted to go to a competitive school and have a fast team. So Bates really had all the points that I wanted in a school. So it was kind of the easy choice for me to pick Bates.

Aaron: I feel like when you were looking at schools, they're probably coming off two of their strongest seasons ever on the women's side, right? Did that have an influence at all?

Hannah: Definitely. I mean you always want to be a part of something that's bigger than yourself and have a fast team. So that was exciting to be a part of and see them doing so well.

Aaron: Amy, how about you?

Amy: Yeah, so I also started swimming pretty young. I started probably five or six. I remember I'd do backstroke and wave to my coach while I was swimming. But yeah, so it's been a big part of my life growing up and my siblings also swim with me too. So that was good family bonding experience. And when I was looking at schools I knew I wanted to swim D-3 because D-1 seemed like a big commitment and I also wanted to focus on academics too and I know Bates has that really nice balance of academics and athletics because it's in a super competitive conference, but also you're getting that good education.

Aaron: Well any more thoughts any of you wanted to share about the season, what's coming up here?

Matt: We've got big plans. We're excited to perform at a high level. Get excited to see some big results from us.

Aaron: Matt Charest, Amy Duren, Hannah Johnson. Thanks so much.

Matt, Amy, Hannah: Thank you.

Aaron: Next time on the Bates Bobcast, we’ll introduce you to the new head coach for the Bates squash teams. Plus, we’ll look back on the swimming and diving teams’ attempt to defend their state titles and recap a busy week that features four basketball games and four squash matches. That’s next time, on the Bates Bobcast!