By Zack Shaw
Elm Staff Writer
Alex Bates towers over everyone when he walks on campus, but his easy smile and friendly personality are well-known by the community.
A former Division I basketball player, Bates joined the Washington College men’s basketball coaching staff as an assistant coach in the summer of 2016.
“I became a basketball coach solely for my love of the game and the opportunity to spread my knowledge into a new generation,” he said.
Bates began his collegiate playing career at Northeastern, where he played in 30 games over two seasons. He then transferred to Tennessee State where he played one season, making 12 starts in 29 games played, and finished his undergraduate degree. He completed his eligibility by playing one season as a graduate student at East Tennessee State University in 2014-15, making a career-best 15 starts in 25 games played. He received his Bachelor of Science in Communications from Tennessee State in May 2014.
“Some of the ups and downs of my college career included the experience of success one season, and the next season being completely unsuccessful. College basketball is a roller coaster, and it’s very hard to have continued success on a consistent basis. I transferred schools twice. The first time I transferred was because I wasn’t happy at my school, Northeastern, anymore, and I was always taught that you must take care of yourself first or no one else will. The second time I transferred was because my head coach at my second school Tennessee State, was fired and the new coach who came in wanted to bring in his own recruits and decided to release everyone who was on the team,” said Bates.
A native of Greenbelt, Maryland Bates spent the 2015-16 season as an assistant coach at his scholastic alma mater, Eleanor Roosevelt High School.
Fellow assistant coach Nick Sparacino and Bates met back in high school where they competed against each other.
“We then crossed paths again when we saw each other after college where he was coaching his high school team and I was recruiting with WC last year. He said he was trying to get into college coaching so I asked coach Goodman if we had a spot for him. Now he is my roommate, assistant coaching partner, and best friend. If you don’t already see us together all the time around campus to know we do just about everything together,” said Sparacino.
Head coach Goodman revealed his reasononing behind hiring bates.
“I recruited Alex when I was an assistant at Navy, he worked our basketball camps at Navy as well, and he played for coaching friends of mine so I knew he had a high pedigree for the game with a great work ethic. In addition, Bates and Sparacino know each other very well, and he was a very successful student-athlete at the Division 1 level. These factors, plus his professional and great personality made it a perfect fit,” said coach Goodman.
Bates is hoping to instill the lessons he learned in college to WC athletes and pushes his players to work as hard as they can.
“My advice to current or future college players is to enjoy these four years as much as humanly possible. They go by quick, and once they are gone they are gone forewver. Just work your hardest during your time and make every second count,” he said.
Despite the Shoremen’s narrow chance at making the playoffs, they have made impressive strides in the past year.
“The Shoremen have bounced back in more ways than one from last year. I think the most noticeable difference is the exception for of success and not being satisfied with being average. Our guys have made great strides on the court this year and have laid the foundation for the future of this program,” he said.