Dropping Dimes: New Bates football coach bringing the juice

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Malik Hall was hired as the 20th head coach of the Bates College football program in June. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

At the unofficial public unveiling of the new era of Bates College football, new coach Malik Hall said that it might be the first time since being hired in June that he had a chance to exhale.

By the looks of it, taking a breather might be out of his comfort zone.

Hall was the first of seven college football coaches from around the state to speak at the Maine Chapter of the National Football Foundation’s 12 annual Kick-Off Luncheon on Monday.

“I don’t want to confuse grit and talent, because I think if you can overachieve, you have the best of both worlds — a nice amount of grit, a nice amount of talent,” Hall said during his speech on the campus of Bowdoin College. “As it stands, I feel that we have a little bit of both. It’s up to me to guide this ship into overachieving.”

Then Hall had to sit down as the state’s other coaches spoke, including University of Maine legend and first-year Colby College coach Jack Cosgrove.

Hall seemed restless.

Don’t be confused, he still looked engaged in what was being said. He even took a running tally of each time a former Bates coach or player was mentioned as part of another Maine team’s coaching staff — “10 people,” Hall said — but it isn’t easy to slam on the breaks after a month-and-a-half of constant motion.

Especially for a guy like Hall.

“A little bit of it, I think, was energy. That’s kind of my calling card, if I have one,” Hall said after the luncheon. “My wife is like, ‘The boat is always rocking,’ because even if I’m standing, it’s like I’m on a boat.

“I think that’s kind of a good thing right now, because there’s so much to do, I’m racing against the clock that’s inevitable, which is the football season.”

Hall was hired to lead the Bobcats 44 days ago; the season opener is only 48 days away (Sept. 15 at home against Amherst).

If there is one thing that defines the short tenure of the 20th head coach in Bates history, it’s energy.

“Definitely a super-energetic guy,” Bobcats assistant coach Tino Lopes said after the luncheon. “He’s going to bring — obviously, a lot of people are using the word ‘juice’ nowadays — bring the juice to not only the players but also the staff.”

Hall spent a lot of his luncheon speech talking about putting people before the product.

So far, he’s been able to impress two of the people left over from Mark Harriman’s 20 years leading the Bobcats: assistant coaches Lopes and Skip Capone.

Capone actually predates even Harriman at Bates, having started as an assistant with the school a year before his longtime close friend took over the Bobcats in 1998.

“At this point in my career, I wasn’t staying at Bates just to have a job,” Capone said. “There’s a reason I stayed, that’s because of that guy (Hall). It’s pretty simple.”

Capone said he had other options, in and out of football, but once he met Hall, the two made an instant connection.

Before the luncheon — Hall was the first coach to arrive, crediting his stomach with his punctuality — he told me that energy and enthusiasm won’t be maintained by the team unless it’s genuine.

He hasn’t had much time with the players yet, but the coaches are on board.

“He’s what we needed, at this point,” Capone said. “He’s a great guy, and I’m very impressed, and I’m excited to get started.”

Assistant Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at [email protected]

Malik Hall was hired as the 20th head coach of the Bates College football program in June. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

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