A Profile on Bates Soccer's Luke McNabb '17: Developing As A Leader And Transitioning from Soccer to Analytics

Luke McNabb.png

How I got into playing soccer

My dad played soccer in college and encouraged me to play from a young age. When I first started, I would rather pick daisies than kick the ball, but the promise of ice cream and doughnuts after every game ensured my attendance. As I got older and continued to play, my love for the game outweighed my love for ice cream and doughnuts.

Why I chose Bates

There were a few reasons why Bates stood out to me when it came down to selecting a school for the next four years of my life. When looking into colleges, I wanted an opportunity to not only get a great education and play collegiate soccer, but also find a place where I could pursue other passions and interests. Bates was a school that challenged me academically, offered a competitive sports conference, and still left me time to give back to the Bates community and be an active member of the student body.

The biggest challenges I faced as a leader

Learning how to manage different personalities through hard times and disappointment was a big challenge. It’s easy to get everyone on board and working hard when you win every game. After a few losses, it can get a lot more difficult. People deal with losing in a bunch of different ways. Understanding how to talk to one teammate compared to another after a tough spell took some time but was definitely the most valuable skill I learned as a leader.

My academic journey – the ups and down

I’ll be the first to admit that I definitely was not as focused on academics as I should have been. I was focused on soccer and extracurriculars without any regards to how it affected my academics. As a result, my grades started falling below what I deemed acceptable. It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I nearly failed an economics class that I realized that I needed to do a better job of managing my time to ensure I get the most academically I could from Bates. I really turned it around my junior year. It took some sacrifices and a lot of discipline, but I was able to work through and have my best four semesters on the back half of my college career; not only academically, but on soccer field as well.

My interest in analytics

When I graduated college, I didn’t know what was going to come next. It took a while, but I ultimately discovered that I really enjoyed analyzing numbers. It may look like a bunch of random numbers for most people, but for me, understanding data creates a story. I was fortunate to have a friend and fellow Bates alum who went through an analytics development program at Liberty Mutual. As soon as he told me about it, I jumped at the opportunity and have been working there ever since.

Why I chose Liberty Mutual

I wanted to work for Liberty Mutual for their development program. As someone who had a lot of diverse experiences in college, I felt like I had developed a lot of great soft skills that would help me be successful in the workforce but lacked professional experience. Liberty Mutual’s development program offered me time to learn the necessary skills I needed and was willing to invest in me to maximize my potential as an analyst.

Similarities to Liberty Mutual and my life as an athlete

One major similarity is teamwork and consistent communication. Communication is something I was already very comfortable in thanks to sports. When working at a big company like Liberty Mutual, you need to communicate with different types of people. I am in constant communication with the IT people to make sure that the data my team and I analyzed is correct, and then we communicate this information over to the business stakeholders. Also, doing whatever the team needs to get the job done. That was one of the very natural transitions from the field to the workforce.

Mindset developed through athletics that I use in my job

Attention to detail is vital. The smallest mistakes can make the biggest differences on both the field and in analytics. On the soccer field, detail is especially important for game preparation. Small details such as understanding the formation of the opposing team and determining what your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses are could make a significant difference in the way you and your team perform. Detail is also very important in analytics when I am working with data. If I slice it incorrectly, the entire data could be off, so staying focus on your goal and paying attention to detail is huge in my day to day job. Perseverance is also important. Coming into this job, relatively new to the field of analytics, there were times when I didn’t understand/know how to do my job. My willingness to learn new things and preserve has helped me to advance to the position that I have today at Liberty Mutual. The ability to not quit and push on is a valuable trait that I definitely would not have if it wasn’t for my experience as a college athlete. Whether I was developing a new move or working on improving my left foot, perseverance is skill I learned as a college athlete that continues to benefit me in my job today.

Advice to my younger self

Discipline, discipline, discipline. It’s one trait that I am still working on, but it is already paying off.  I personally believe that discipline is paramount to success.

Advice to student-athletes preparing for the transition into the workforce

Don’t be afraid to fail. To succeed as an athlete, you can never back down from a challenge. This applies in life after college as well. My mom would always tell me, “To get a job, sometimes it takes 1,000 applications to get 100 interviews to ultimately get that 1 job you want”. I don’t know how true that is, but I definitely took that to heart when looking.


Are you a Bates College Alum who wants to share your story?

Connect with Bates’ Campus Ambassador, Emma Lombardo ‘22 (elombard@bates.edu)