MADISON SOURCE: "Hand Tigers' Grad Ethan Bates Succeeds for Stonehill Soccer"

Ethan Bates has displayed a level of dedication to his soccer team and his academics that not many can match.

Ethan Bates

By Nick Greene
Source Sports Writer / September 8, 2011
Sports Person of the Week

No one would have blamed Ethan Bates had he decided to quit the soccer team after his freshman season at Stonehill College. The Skyhawks were in the midst of an eight-year playoff drought, team morale was dipping, and the Stonehill coach was on his way out. But luckily for the Skyhawks, Ethan stayed dedicated to soccer the same way he was dedicated to school.

Ethan, a 2007 Hand graduate, went through a couple of trying years upon joining the Skyhawks as a defender as the program was in need of an energy boost. Ethan and eight other members of his freshman class decided they were going to be that shot in the arm. As seniors, Ethan and his classmates helped the Skyhawks qualify for the conference playoffs for the first time in 11 years and Ethan was also honored with a Division II ADA Academic Achievement Award.

"Ethan was a workhorse for us for four years and was a key member of a senior class that made a huge positive impact on our program," said Stonehill men's soccer coach Jim Reddish. "His work ethic and ability allowed him to play multiple positions at this level. As a senior, he started on a defense that significantly reduced our goals against and guided our way to our first conference playoff appearance in 11 years. An excellent student as well, Ethan is a prime example of the true student athlete at Stonehill."

To qualify for the Academic Achievement Award, Ethan needed to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, have completed at least four semesters, and have been an active member of his team during the previous academic year. Ethan met those requirements as a marketing major and a graduate this spring.

"I was in the honors program at Stonehill, so trying to balance academics is what I wanted when I came to school," Ethan said. "I had decent practice at it in high school and it was pretty much the same routine, time management, and getting stuff done on time. It meant doing stuff on the bus or late at night, but it wasn't that big of a deal."

What was a big deal was the state of the Stonehill men's soccer program after Ethan's freshman year when the Skyhawks went 5-11-2. Though he says he has never quit on a team before, his freshman season of college soccer certainly put Ethan in uncharted waters.

"I have never really been on a losing team before and I was really disheartened," says Ethan. "I didn't really enjoy soccer that year, but it ended up being a positive thing."

Ethan credits the program's revival not to more talent or lucky breaks, but instead an attitude and dedication to the team from he and his fellow classmates. Stonehill would only win 11 games over the next two seasons before going 7-8-2 in 2010, qualifying for the Northeast-10 Conference playoffs.

"It was an attitude and commitment to have a good work ethic," he says. "Keep working hard, keep turning this thing around, and trying to have that winning attitude. We were at rock bottom my freshman year and we pretty much improved in every area. It was all connected to working hard together and that is why we ultimately played so well together."

Ethan admits that while it was changing the culture of soccer that was more difficult than keeping up with his high marks in the classroom, there was never any misunderstanding of why he was at Stonehill.

"Academics came first and soccer was a supplement. I had a decent college career but I was fully committed to academics," says Ethan, who now lives in the Boston area working for WB Mason as a marketing management analyst. "I wasn't about to let one slip for the other. The first thing you are going to school for is a degree. Four years of soccer is great, but your school needs to meet your academic needs also. It is all about work ethic and committing to a program. It is not as easy high school."