Address on Behalf of the Graduates

Men’s lacrosse player Nick Sampson delivered the Address on Behalf of the Graduates

Good afternoon. I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you here today. It is truly an honor to be inducted into the Scholar-Athlete Society with a group of my peers who are so deeply dedicated to their success on the playing field and in the classroom. Before I talk about my athletic experience at Bates, I would like to note that without the guidance and support of my parents, brothers, friends, teammates, coaches, teachers, and professors I would not be where I am today. And for all that they have done for me, I am entirely grateful.

Preceding the beginning of my college career here at Bates, I visited a few times to watch the men’s lacrosse team play some schools like Amherst and Middlebury. I was immediately fixated by the great atmosphere, intensity, and skill level of the games. Once I arrived at Bates, the appeal of college games only grew. Whether it was driving down to Bowdoin to cheer for the men’s basketball team as they beat the Polar Bears by one in regulation, or watching the men’s soccer team tie Wesleyan with time running out in the second half, I longed to experience the excitement of playing in front of so many students, professors, and parents at such a high level. Initially, my athletic experience was driven by this eagerness to be a part of the hard-fought battles of college sports.

However, as my time at Bates progressed so did my athletic experience. The relationships that I developed with all of my teammates and coaches made playing a sport at Bates so much more than just stepping out onto the field in a big game, scoring a goal, getting an assist, or even winning.

To me, Bates has provided the perfect environment for a college experience that is balanced between academics, athletics, and personal relationships. The similar intensities that surround academics and athletics at this school provide a platform for student athletes to be challenged, but not completely overrun, by either one of these aspects of their college experience. And the friendliness of the Bates students and faculty has provided an atmosphere that is necessary for strong relationships to form.

As I begin to look back on my four years at Bates, I know that what I will remember most about my athletic career are the relationships that I have forged through sports. In college, teams take a form of family that is so special and rewarding. It has been one of the greatest feelings to work towards a common goal with people that I consider some of my closest friends. The preparation and training that is necessary for college athletics is different from the effort that goes into schoolwork or employment. You must be prepared for the many different aspects of your sport, whether it is strength, endurance, agility, stick skills (or any other necessary, sport-specific skill), or the mental components of the game. Although people can observe how athletes prepare themselves for a season, only the athletes and the coaches really know what they put into their sport, and that is a special feeling. Throughout my years here at Bates, I have greatly valued the time that I have spent preparing for the upcoming season. Whether I was working out in Underhill Arena, conditioning as a team in the slippery Gray Cage, or shooting on the goal with teammates in Merrill Gym, training provided me with an escape from any type of stress I was experiencing with schoolwork and the satisfaction of working hard to make myself and my team better.

In terms of wins and losses, my athletic experience in college was not as successful as my career in high school. However, in terms of learning experiences, personal growth, and friendships, my athletic career at Bates couldn’t have been any more fulfilling and rewarding. I want to thank all of my teammates, coaches, professors, fellow scholar-athletes, Kevin McHugh and the athletics department, and Bates as a whole, for making my athletic experience here possible. I will never forget any of it. And I look forward to traveling back up to Lewiston to root for the Bobcats in the coming years.