High school and college athletes know the routine for photo day. Stand right here. Smile if you want. Click. Next.

But at Bates, that’s only half the game. After a team has their official portraits done, the fun begins. It’s now time for Bobcats to celebrate self and team by striking a pose — a “sportrait” — of their own.

Over the last few years, pre-season sportrait sessions at Bates have become a favorite team-building tradition. “The key to the whole thing is enthusiasm,” says photographer Brewster Burns, who is a Maine high school teacher by day. “If I equal their enthusiasm — which isn’t that hard to do — then my enthusiasm, their enthusiasm, and everybody else’s in the room frees everybody to take chances and have a good time.”

The word “enthusiasm” comes from a Greek word that means being possessed by a god. In this case, the athletes are possessed by their inner Bobcat.

Behind the scenes of a Bates sportrait session with the men’s basketball team in November 2021. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

For her final Bates sportrait, Amanda Kaufmann ’22 of Somers, Conn., was looking for a pose that captured a hunger for greatness. And that’s what she got. “My favorite of four years,” she says.

Mohamed Diawara ’23 of Philadelphia wanted a pose that would display the photo on a pendant he wears to honor a friend who died. Burns “made sure it worked,” Diawara says.

The first-year Bates baseball players wanted to recreate an 1879 team photo. “He was as excited as we were, and helped us make our replica as accurate as possible.”

“When people get together and they’re all enthusiastic and they’re all having a good time, then they free up, take more chances,” says Burns. “Creativity demands taking chances, both on my part and their part. It’s a partnership.”

Here are 16 of our favorites, featuring quotes from the Bobcats gathered by Bates Communications intern Aaliyah Moore ’24 of Phoenix:

‘Why would I want to hide my strength?’ 

Competitive swimmers, both male and female, are known for developing broad shoulders and skinny hips, explains Natalie Young ‘24 of Windham, N.H. For a woman, that means having a body type “that more closely resembles the ‘ideal’ male body type.”

Young’s specialty is the butterfly, which “requires a great deal of upper-body strength, more than other swimming events.” For Young, broad shoulders “symbolize the countless hours of dedicated work that I have poured into this sport over the years. “Truth is, I have no shame in my broad ‘swimmer shoulders.‘ I view the female swimmer body type as my ideal body type. It’s literally something that I wear as a badge of honor. Why would I want to hide my strength?” 

Young says her creative sportrait, “reflects the pride that I feel being a swimmer and conveys the confidence that it has given me in my body type.” The pose has another purpose, she says: a bit of “intimidation for the competition.”


Why we do what we do

After the wipeout of the 2020–21 sports season, Bates athletes, especially seniors, returned to the field, court, pitch, and slopes in high gear.  

For her creative sportrait, Daphne James ‘22 of Sausalito, Calif., wanted to showcase the excitement and energy that marked the reopening of Bates sports but also “something fun and goofy, especially because skiing can be serious and intense. So this pose came to mind. It says, ‘I’m just here to have a good time and happy to be a Bobcat!’” 

The pose is also a “good reminder of why we do our sports and what got us here: love of our sport and for being a member of a team.”


Trashion Show

Yeah, it happens: throwing up after a really tough workout. As one scholarly paper notes, “Nausea and vomiting are relatively frequent symptoms in athletes.” As Colby Stakun-Pickering ’23 of Wellesley, Mass., puts it, “harder and harder workouts occasionally mean a trip to the trash can.”


During the sportrait session for the indoor track team, Stakun-Pickering was at a loss for his creative pose. Then he spied a trash can, and decided to show a different side of being a track athlete. What the viewer sees, he explains, “is what my teammates and Coach might see as they rally me back to the track for more sprints.”


Home cookin’

Like other Bobcats, senior soccer players Ciaran Bardong of Manhasset, N.Y., Luke Protti of Amherst, Mass., and Charlie Cronin of South Portland, Maine, wanted to cook up something special for their final Bates sportrait.

“One of us suggested fake mustaches, and we instinctively knew that chefs hats and cooking utensils were essential additions,” says Cronin. “One could say we’re Michelin starred.”


Yer a wizard, Mary!

On a scale of 1 to 10, we’re 9 3/4 obsessed with this Harry Potter look served up by women’s cross country runner Mary Richardson ’22 of Blue Hill, Maine. “I grew up reading Harry Potter and felt inspired to pay homage for my senior year sportrait,” she explains.

Richardson says her childhood was “really crafty” (as in creative, not wizardly). “My mom always made Halloween costumes for me and my sister, so we’ve always had capes and crazy hats laying around.” Packing for her return to Bates last August, Richardson spied a Gryffindor scarf peeking out from a bin in her closet. Paired with her glasses, the look was complete.


1879 to 2022

What looks like a staid pose by the first-year members of the baseball team is actually a brilliant homage to a 143-year-old team picture taken at the dawn of Bates intercollegiate athletics.

“The old picture was found by a senior, Antonio Jareno, who suggested that the first years recreate it,” explains Josh Sherman ‘25 of Lexington, Mass. The historic photo depicts the baseball team in only its seventh year of existence, 1879.

The team back then didn’t have an official coach — it wouldn’t until 1906. Instead, a student team manager helped run the club. Holding the bowler hat at back left is the student manager, Harry Merrill, Class of 1880.  

Merrill’s appearance in the 1879 photo suited the Bates first years because it allowed them to include Sherman, the student manager of the modern-day team.  

Adding to the fun of sportraits, says Sherman and others, is that Burns supports their creativity. 

“The photographer was very excited by our desire to recreate the photo as exact as possible, so he helped us adjust our positioning and told us each where to direct our eyes so that our replica could be as accurate as we could make it.”


‘Part of my heart’

For his first Bates sportrait two years ago, Mohamed Diawara ’23 of Philadelphia posed with his arms spread wide, one hand holding a football. “I was celebrating my arrival at Bates,” he says.

Two years later, Diawara again chose to hold a football. But this time, he put his hands together and put his head down, so the viewer sees another face: the one pictured on the chain he’s wearing, that of his close friend and football teammate in high school who died from gun violence in 2017.

“I wear the necklace because I always want to keep his love for the game and legacy alive. It’s my way of knowing that I’m carrying him with me,” he says.

“I’m looking away, because it’s about his face, not mine. He’s part of my heart now.”


Queen for a day

This homage to the iconic cover of the album Queen II was created by four members of the men’s rowing team.

At top in the photo is Thomas Monahan of Louisville, Colo., and below, from left, are Xavier Fallone of Niskayuna, N.Y., William Corcoran of Chevy Chase, Md., and Jasper Tucker of New Canaan, Conn.

Respectively, they’re assuming the poses of Brian May, John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, and Roger Taylor from the 1974 album cover.

Tucker came up with the idea on the spot, explains Monahan. “The long black Under Armor tops we wear for our winter rows were perfect for the pose.”

Beyond the gear, “it’s the spontaneity that makes it so great,” he says. “The hundreds of hours we train together produce an incredibly close-knit group of guys. This closeness and the comfort we have with each other is what make Bates men’s rowing so special and these moments so frequent.”

Fun fact: A photo of Marlene Dietrich taken during filming of the 1932 movie Shanghai Express was the inspiration for Queen’s cover photo, taken by Mick Rock.


All aboard

The juniors on the softball team were on the lookout for a pose for their creative sportrait, and landed on the idea of rowing and looking ahead together. 

From left, Kama Boswell of Bellevue, Wash., Lindsey Kim of Palo Alto, Calif., Amanda Taylor of Fair Lawn, N.J., Katherine Merisotis of Coventry, Conn., and, keeping an eye out, Cassidy Musco of Walpole, Mass. 


Winter rules

This is a go-to pose for lacrosse player Shelby Howard ‘23 of Ashland, Mass. “I did this pose my freshman year, and will most likely do it once more as I am a rising senior.”

An alpine stance and lacrosse sticks as ski poles pokes fun at Maine’s long winter. “Lacrosse is a spring sport, but in Maine, it’s also a winter sport since we start playing in February.” And winter can be hard to escape. “We also went to Chicago for our pre-season trip this past year, where we played outdoors in snowy conditions, so I think this photo foreshadowed that.” 

Band of Bobcats

In explaining the choice to pay homage to the iconic photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, Liam Evans ’22 of Sauquoit, N.Y., respects the limits of a war metaphor.

“It’s not meant to glorify war, or equate track to the toll war takes,” says Evans. Instead, he and his fellow seniors wanted to “convey the demanding nature of track and field, the perseverance one must adopt to succeed, and the idea of individual achievement and collective triumph.” From left, Garrett Evans (Liam’s brother), Liam, Paul Speliakos, and co-captain Charlie Hansen. 

“It’s about having a soldier’s mentality to succeed in track and field. Mental fortitude is just as important as physical preparation.”


Seeing and running

A simple relay baton became a eye-opening prop for track sprinter and jumper Jeandodie Tangishaka ’25 of Goodyear, Ariz.

While the baton is a simple piece of sports equipment, it carries huge importance.”The handover is the most important part of any sprint relay,” explains Tangishaka. “The quality of the baton exchange between any two runners can determine success or failure.” You can have the four fastest runners in a relay and still do poorly. “Ideally, both runners should meet at full speed and avoid slowing down” during handoff.

Tangishak says that he peered through the baton “to emphasize the importance of seeing and running as one with the baton in order to make the perfect exchange.”


Hunger for greatness

“I’ve always admired female athletes who pose so confidently and I wanted to emulate that,” explains Amanda Kaufman ‘22 of Somers, Conn.

She references a brief YouTube video of sprinter and hurdler Sydney McLaughlin, the world record holder in the 400 meters hurdles and a 2020 Olympic gold medalist. “She’s down in the blocks, does a hair flip to bring her face to the camera, and then winks. That’s awesome.”

“We train hard, September to May. It’s a grind. But the environment at practice every day, being surrounded by other hard working women, really makes the grind worth it. We make each other better and we are better together!”

“I think the facial expression the photographer captured was a hunger for greatness and it is a reflection of the grittiness that we see at practice every day.”


Fertile imaginations

Cross country runners seem rarely at a loss for inside jokes, which is how good friends and roommates Eli Boesch Dining ’23 (left) of Concord, N.H., and Clem Taylor-Roth ’23 of Juneau, Alaska, came up with their grass-watering vignette.

“We think of Eli as our plant guy. His hat says ‘John Deere Golf,'” explains Taylor-Roth. “He works in the college greenhouse and is an environmental studies major.”

“And Clem always has this signature water bottle, a massive hydroflask,” says Boesch Dining.

Last fall’s photo sessions were held outdoors at the Ladd Library Arcade, so Boesch Dining grabbed a bunch of nearby grass (“sustainably harvested,” notes Taylor-Roth). His friend held it while Boesch Dining did the watering.

Tend the garden, and see the results, they say. “Put in the work, sleep well, hydrate, eat healthy, and put up mileage: Your speed and success as a runner will grow.” says Boesch Dining.


Poised pose

The juniors on last year’s women’s basketball team chose this fierce and determined pose for their creative sportrait, taken on Nov. 5, 2021, well before the start of their historic season.

It was a pose, but these Bobcats were hardly poseurs.

With major contributions from the four — from left, Meghan Graff of South Portland, Maine, Jenna Berens of Durham, Conn., Brianna Gadaleta of Chappaqua, N.Y., and Kayla Bridgeman of Brooklyn, N.Y. — the Bobcats went on to win their first NESCAC title, then advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament.

The sportrait “brings out the competitiveness of our team,” says Graff.

(The smoke, by the way, was created by a fogging device that Burns borrowed from a local electrician, who uses it for HVAC testing.)


Supporter and competitor

This creative sportrait “shows our personalities very well,” says golfer Maddy Kwei ‘25 of Pasadena, Calif. She’s holding the tee in her teeth as her friend and teammate Nerea Barranco Aramburu ‘25 of Zarautz, Spain, takes the backswing. “We’re each other’s supporter and competitor on the course, and that’s the best part.”

“We both love to have a laugh on the course and with our coaches and teammates,” she adds. “We’re here to compete seriously, but also Bates golf wouldn’t be Bates golf without some smiles and fun.”

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