In Mike Ferry ’97, Bates has its first summer Olympian in 68 years.
Edited by Adam Levin, Sports Information Director
Five hundred meters from the finish of the Olympic Rowing Trials in Cherry Hill, N.J., Mike Ferry ’97 heard them cheering. But not until he and partner Henry Nuzum crossed the finish line, an Olympic berth secured, did Ferry see what his four former Bates crew teammates had done. Bare-chested, they had drawn M-I-K-E across their torsos in bluish zinc oxide.
The June day was as special for them as it was for Ferry. So many frigid Maine mornings they spent together on the Androscoggin River, warming up in the glow of headlights outside their unheated boathouse. No way were Alex Morton ’96, Marko Radosavljevic ’96, Will Innis ’97, and Jim Crute ’95 going to miss it. “We believe in him,” Morton said. “We knew this was very likely.”
Ferry, with partner Nuzum representing the United States in the double sculls at the Olympic games in Sydney, becomes the first Bobcat to compete in the summer Olympics since runner Arnold Adams ’33 was a member of the U.S. team at the 1932 Los Angeles games. (A foot injury prevented Adams from competing.)
Ferry as Olympian seemed so unlikely back in 1993, when he arrived at Bates. A broken knee in high school had dashed his hopes to play college football. Looking for a way to stay in shape at Bates, he turned to rowing, then a club sport.
“My father rowed in high school, but that was about the only background I had on the sport,” Ferry said.
The sport’s camaraderie and intensity hooked him.
When the team couldn’t get on the iced-over Androscoggin (sometimes they whacked away at the shoreline ice to get to the river’s unfrozen middle), they trained on ergonometers, indoor rowing simulators. They even sponsored 24-hour ergothons to raise money and held Colby-Bates-Bowdoin erg competitions. While Ferry never personally won a race on the water while at Bates, he holds the CBB erg record of 6 minutes, 2 seconds, over 2,000 simulated meters. Good friend Melissa Young ’97, coxswain of Ferry’s first Bates boat, remembers when Ferry took on the ergonometer. “It took four people standing on it to hold the erg machine in place,” she said. After the competition, Mike asked, “Is it bad if you taste blood?”
“I always looked forward to practice, no matter what time of day it was,” Ferry said, now six-foot-five and 215 pounds. “With the fun I was having, the work ethic just came naturally.”
Ferry was “determined, but so laid back and so focused,” Young said. “He was very quiet, but everyone looked up to him.” She remembered one time rowing around an island on the river. “It was way too shallow and we grounded our boat and broke our rudder. Mike was unfazed. I’ll always remember us sitting there and Mike looking over the side of the boat and saying, “Look! A crawfish!”
Ferry returned to his hometown of Princeton, N.J., after graduation. A three-week training session at the prestigious Penn Athletic Club (Penn AC) in Philadelphia led to an offer by his current coach, Igor Grinko, to start working out full time in Augusta, Ga. Ferry earned a gold medal in the quadruple sculls at the 1998 U.S. National Championships and a silver medal in the double sculls that year.
A third-place finish at the 1998 U.S. National Team trials earned him a spot as an alternate on the team. “When you are part of the national team, the Olympics are always at the back of your mind,” said Ferry. “All your training crescendos towards making it. Your intensity is constantly growing,” he said in an July interview. “The Olympics wasn’t a part of the plan when I was at Bates, but I can’t wait for the opportunity now that I have it.”
Material from the Newark Star-Ledger was used, with permission, in this article.
Bates athletics finished a best-ever 35th out of 267 NCAA Division III institutions in the final 1999-2000 Sears Directors’ Cup standings. Bates was among six New England Small College Athletic Conference schools to finish in the top 50 of the national competition.
In addition to the athletic success of Jason Coulie ’00 (see page 22) and Mike Ferry ’97, All-American Justin Easter ’03 placed second in steeplechase at the U.S. Junior National Track and Field championships in June, making him eligible for the fall World Junior Championships in Santiago, Chile. Also, Thomas Keister ’94, a teammate of Ferry’s at Bates, competed for the lightweight men at the World Rowing Championships in Austria in August.
Lasagna Is Men’s Lacrosse Coach
Peter Lasagna has joined the Bates coaching staff as just the third-ever men’s lacrosse coach. He comes to Bates after 18 years at Brown, including the previous eight as head coach. He compiled a 65-51 record as the Bears’ head coach (30-18 in the Ivy League) and three NCAA Division I championship tournaments. In 1995, he was named Division I Coach of the Year by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA). He takes over for Al Brown, who left Bates to become director of athletics at Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth, R.I. Brown led the Bobcats to an ECAC tournament berth in 2000, their first since 1987. Web Harrison ’63 established the Bates varsity program in 1978.