Dan Bader

There are certain guys who just make a team go, and for the Sandwich High School football and boys’ lacrosse teams it is obvious that one of the valves that drives the engine is senior Dan Bader. Football coach Matt MacLean calls Bader “a heart and soul of the team kind of guy.”

Yesterday Dan lined up in a Blue Knights’ football jersey for the last time every, squaring off against Mashpee. Bader has helped lead the SHS football team out of the doldrums of sub-mediocrity to a bona fide playoff team this year, which came on the heels of an excellent spring season.

The son of Kristi and Eric Bader is one of the best student-athletes at SHS. He is on the high honor roll, a member of the National Honor Society and the vice president of the SHS chapter of the National Science Honor Society. A two-sport all-star, he has committed to play lacrosse at Vassar College.

Dan said that his most-prized possession is his Stratocaster guitar. His go-to meal is chicken carnitas and Christmas cookies with a lemonade. “District 9” is his favorite movie, “Outer Banks” is his favorite TV show and Polo G is his favorite musical act.

How did you get involved with football? How much do you enjoy it? What is your role on the team?

I have played youth football since 6th grade and have loved every season. I appreciate everything about the sport: including its physicality, the mental aspect, the team camaraderie, and, of course, the games. At SHS, I have been a four-year starter and a two-year captain. I believe in leading by example, promoting sportsmanship, and always giving 100-percent effort.

The Knights have enjoyed an excellent season. What has it been like to be a part of such a strong run by the team over the past two seasons, and why do you think the program has been able to turn a corner?

The last two years have been an incredible experience, as the team has improved dramatically. My freshman year, Coach MacLean emphasized that the culture of the program needed to change in order for the program to be more successful. He said the change needed to start in the weight room and in the classroom. For the last few years, the team has been lifting together throughout the entire year, which has improved our team chemistry as well as our strength and athleticism. Coach also emphasized the importance of a positive attitude, work ethic, and responsible behavior, both on the field and in the classroom.

How do you think your game as a football player has evolved over the years?

I think that over the last four years, my technique as a football player has improved dramatically as a product of good coaching. Coach MacLean is a terrific defensive line coach, and I have had the blessing of having two exceptional and overqualified offensive line coaches, in Coach Bengston and Coach Heleen.

You have been preparing for the annual game against Mashpee. Having not played last year on Turkey Day, what does it mean to you and the seniors to get to play them this year, and what will it take for Sandwich to win?

The Thanksgiving game is an awesome tradition, and everyone on the team looks forward to it. To finally be a senior playing in this game is really emotional because it is the last high school football game that I will ever play in, so I plan to leave the field having absolutely no regrets. Mashpee is a terrific team every year, and this year is no different, so it will take a complete team effort and near perfect execution for us to win the game.

Every sport requires a certain set of skills that the layman may not know about. What is something about football that is difficult to do that most people would not think about?

The most difficult part of football is thinking, but not overthinking. In order to play football the right way, knowledge of assignments is key. This means that you must know who to block every single play on offense, and who to tackle every single play on defense. While it is important to think about your assignment every play, it is also important to never hesitate. There is an expression used by every football coach that I have ever met, that goes: “If you think, you stink.” This saying is true, because if you hesitate at all, you will fail. At the end of the day, football comes down to hitting someone as hard as you can every play, so it’s important to think just enough, but focus on the basics.

What do you think a scouting report would say about you?

I think a scouting report about me would describe my defensive fundamentals and defensive technique, including creating extension with arms and tackling ability, before mentioning my offensive ability. I take a lot of pride in my performance defensively and offensively, but I believe that my defensive game is more polished.

You also play lacrosse at SHS. How much are you looking forward to that season, and what do you think the team will be like?

I am really pumped for this lacrosse season, and since we only lost three starters, I think it is reasonable to predict that we will be contenders for the sectional championship. My freshman year, when I also was a starter, we won the sectional championship for the first time in school history. Last year, we lost by one goal to the team that went on to win it. This year I am confident that we will make a run for the state title.

Of all the games that you have ever played in is there one that stands out as the best? Why?

The game that stands out the most out of all the games that I have played in has to be the lacrosse sectional championship game freshman year, when we beat Hanover and won the title for the first time in school history. I remember that our fan bus was there, and the stands were packed with Sandwich fans, despite the game being at a neutral location. It was a comeback victory, and winning the trophy and mobbing our goalie has to be my favorite athletic moment of my career so far.

Who is the best teammate that you’ve ever played with? What makes that person stand out?

The best teammate that I have ever had was Eric Boudrow. Eric was a Junior when I was a freshman, and he helped me on the field, but he also drove me home from practice, advocated for me with the coaches, and got the linemen together to go out for wings and hang out. He is one of my closest friends. What stands out about Eric is how friendly and welcoming he is.

Is there a coach or mentor who has made a difference in your growth as a player, or as a person? What did they do to help you along the way?

Coach MacLean has helped me tremendously grow as a person as well as a player. He is a great role model for saying the right things, remaining positive when the situation is poor, and showing up to everything. Coach always says, “Don’t be that guy,” and as simple of a saying as that is, it is helpful nonetheless.

Do you have any sports-related superstitions? If so, what are they?

My one sports-related superstition is that right before every lacrosse game, I throw the ball exactly 10 times with one of my other defensemen, and then pass the ball to our goalie. I do not know why we do this superstition every game or how it started, but for some reason I feel as if we do not do it for one game, we will lose.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from playing sports?

The most important thing that I have learned from playing sports is to never fear another athlete. Everyone deserves respect on the field, but to fear someone directly leads to failure. At the end of the day, we are all 15- to 18-year-old kids playing high school sports. There is no reason to fear anyone’s ability.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Why?

If I could have one superpower it would probably be the ability to time travel. It would be awesome to travel back in time and talk to relatives, experience things in the past in person, and meet famous people.

Is there anyone that you would like to thank?

I would like to thank all of my coaches for helping me become a better player and person, my family for always supporting me and going to all my games, and specifically Coach Napoleon, who was a defensive coach for our football team the last two years, and tragically passed away unexpectedly at the age of 72. This football season, and specifically our first playoff win in school history, is dedicated to Coach Napoleon and his family.

What’s the biggest difference between you as a senior and as a freshman? If you could go back, what advice would you give to your freshman self?

My biggest difference between my freshman year and now is understanding how to lead. I am not an overly vocal person, but as an upperclassman and a two-sport captain, I have to be a leader. I have learned to lead by example, and avoid calling people out unless absolutely necessary. I have learned that people learn best if you tell them something man to man rather than calling them out in front of people to embarrass them.

What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?

People would probably be surprised to learn that I play guitar. I feel like because most of my hobbies are athletic, people do not see me as a musician, and I would not exactly call myself a musician, but I do enjoy playing guitar a lot, and consider myself pretty good at it. My favorite song to play on guitar is “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” by Guns N’ Roses.

If you could switch places with one person for a week, who would it be and what would you want to do?

If I could switch places with anyone for a week, I think that I would choose Tom Brady. I understand that this is an incredibly boring answer, but the reason that I choose Tom Brady is because I am curious as to what the daily life of Tom Brady would consist of. His lifestyle is probably so much different than mine that it would be really fun to experience.

Describe your idea of the perfect day.

My idea of a perfect day is waking up around 10 AM after 10 hours of sleep, working out (preferably push day, which works out triceps, chest, and shoulders), watching NFL RedZone for a few hours, playing basketball with my friends, and then suiting up for a lacrosse game. Obviously I would not work out or play basketball on a day that I have lacrosse, but on a perfect day, maybe muscle fatigue would not exist.

What are your post high school plans?

After high school, I am committed to playing college lacrosse at Vassar College, and I plan to study biology and hopefully become a physical therapist.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years, hopefully I will be married and working as a physical therapist. I plan to be living on the East Coast, working out every day, and playing men’s league lacrosse.

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