Aug. 24—Coaching college golf is going to be a new experience for Brendon Croteau and Abby Spector.
The two have been hired as Bates College's new directors of golf. Croteau will coach the men's team and Spector will lead the women's team.
"It's awesome to work with her and learn from her," Croteau said. "We started working about a month ago, and we have built a great relationship working together. I am really excited for the season coming up. It was tough coming out of the pandemic, and with (us) working together, we will be able to build up the program more with all of our expertise."
Croteau is a 2016 Lewiston High School graduate who played college golf at the University of Southern Maine before graduating in 2020. He helped the Huskies win the Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship during the 2019-20 season.
Croteau interned with the Bates athletic department while at USM after Lewiston High School athletic director Jason Fuller introduced Croteau to Bates athletic director Jason Fein. The internship helped Croteau land an assistant coach job with the Bates golf team this past spring.
That experience led to Croteau being hired as one of the directors of golf.
"I interned at Bates my senior year at USM and I met with Jason Fein, we work pretty well together," Croteau said. "He reached out to me a couple of months ago about the position. It's nice to have a little familiarity with the crew over at Bates already."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bates golf team only played in two tournaments this spring: the Bobcat Invitational at Martindale — Bates' home course — which was just an individual tournament with no team results, and the NESCAC Championships in Massachusetts.
The men's team finished seventh of eight teams at the NESCAC Championships. Bates' women's team didn't have enough players to qualify for a team score, but Alex Voight-Shelley finished 11th and Ellie Murphy placed 24th in the women's individual tournament at the NESCAC Championships.
"It wasn't easy, there was a lot of guidelines and a lot of restrictions," Croteau said. "So that made it a little more difficult, on top of I have never coached before. I had those two things to get through (while) learning how to coach at the college level."
Spector, meanwhile, is one of the best golfers to come from Maine. She played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1999-2003 and won the Pine Needles Intercollegiate Championship in 2002. She is a seven-time Maine Women's Amateur champion and she captured the 2001 New England Women's Amateur championship. Prior to UNC, Spector played at Waterville High School and won the individual girls state championship four straight years, from 1996-99. She has been inducted into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame, in 2007, and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, in 2014
Spector runs Spectorgolf, which includes being the Director of Instruction at Riverside Golf Course in Portland.
Spector heard about the Bates College opening through Martindale owner Nick Glicos. She previously coached a year apiece at Waterville and Yarmouth high schools.
"It's certainly going to be an adjustment because my business is taking off right now, and it's very, very busy," Spector said. "I have always wanted to coach at the collegiate level. I couldn't say no, and I am very excited to do it. I am going to make it work."
Fein said that he is excited about the skills Spector and Croteau bring to Bates College.
"Brendon and Abby bring a great set of complementary skills and experience to our golf program," Fein said in a news release. "Abby is a household name in Maine golf — it's quite an honor to welcome her to the Bates athletics team. Her Division I experience and tremendous track record as an instructor will greatly benefit all our golfers. Brendon is absolutely ready to begin his coaching career, and it's always a plus to be able to bring into Bates athletics a colleague who was raised and educated locally."
Croteau and Spector have been in contact daily since the beginning of August as they prepare for the 2021 season. Croteau said they each have strengths that will benefit both Bates teams.
"She's a PGA (Professional) and she will be great at teaching," Croteau said. "She will be able to look at swings with my team and her team, and that will be awesome. With my small background of three months as (an) assistant at Bates, (when it comes to logistics), I have a little better idea than her because she has never coached (at the college level). I think I can help her on that side, and on the teaching side I think she can help me."
Both didn't realize how much off-the-course work is part of coaching, including arranging transportation to and from tournaments, medical training, getting team golf shirts, and working practice times around the players' class schedules.
Their short time on the job has given them an appreciation for what their college coaches did when they weren't at the golf course.
"When I look back at my golf coach in college, I did not realize how much she did," Spector said. "When you are a student you just walk (to the course) and get coached."