At a smaller Division I school like Marist College, it’s not difficult to put a name to the face of the many athletes competing for the school. After walking around campus for four years with their bright red backpacks and constant Marist Athletics apparel, these athletes have established themselves as just that — athletes. As they round the corner to graduation, the question remains: who are they outside of their sport?
The following story is a part of Center Field’s 19 for ‘19: Stories of the Senior Class series.
Tadd Bindas was simply bored.
Unlike most freshmen, he didn’t enjoy the newfound flexible schedule that college brought. After meeting his current fellow senior captain Raymond Mattingly in an introductory freshman class, Tadd decided to walk on to the Marist Men’s Rowing team, having never previously rowed a stroke in his life.
“In my FYS (first year seminar) class, I was sitting next to Ray,” Tadd explained. “I asked, ‘What is it like to be on the crew team?’ He responds, ‘Oh it’s hard.’” But Tadd rebutted, “Oh, it can’t be that hard.”
One morning, Bindas made his way down to the river to the crew house on a whim, looking to see how hard it could really be. He hasn’t looked back since.
“What is perhaps the most remarkable thing about Tadd is his complete commitment to doing everything the right way,” said Marist Rowing Assistant Coach Charles “Campbell” Woods. “Tadd has gone to considerable extra lengths to study the sport of rowing down to its most minute details both in respect to the art of rowing technically well and the science of training effectively.”
In his college search process, Tadd was between Marist and a closer to home option for the Ringoes, NJ native, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). However, he knew that he did not want to follow the path of his older brother in attending NJIT. Bindas wanted to pave his own way and Marist happened to fall into place.
This season, Tadd was named captain of the team and has accepted the position graciously. “There are a lot of guys on the team that have the potential to be a leader, if given the opportunity,” Tadd explained. “It’s an honor to be selected out of all of them. And having the respect of my peers is very rewarding.”
Despite the honor, the title comes with its work. Tadd explained that being a captain is about keeping the peace, specifically among 44 guys this year. It requires being level-headed and resolving conflicts that could affect the team’s performance. In addition, team bonding is just as important to their overall success. Whether that meant organizing a dinner or a simple hang out, Tadd has made the effort to make his team a tight unit.
He learned a lot about being a leader at a young age throughout his years as an Eagle Scout. “I learned that you cannot do everything yourself. A lot of the time, the best thing you can do is take a step back and trust in the people that you work with,” Tadd said. “The hardest thing about being a leader is not doing everything yourself. You want to make sure other people have their moments as well.”
Tadd is a double major studying Computer Science and Mathematics. Additionally he has minors in Information Systems and Information Technology. Originally he came in solely as a computer science major, with a decent amount of college credits earned in high school, giving him flexibility in the classes he could take. “I originally wanted to double major in computer science and business,” he said. “However, I didn’t really enjoy the business classes. In the end, it wasn’t for me. I enjoy analytical thinking and logic. I couldn’t really deal with the memorization of business.”
“I actually came to know Tadd when he was enrolled in my Discrete Mathematics course in fall 2016, which was my first semester [teaching] at Marist College,” Marist Math Professor Duy Nguyen explains. “I rarely ask non-math major students to change their major into mathematics for several reasons.
“But Tadd stood out as the top outstanding student in the class. Luckily for us that he happily agreed to have math as another major.”
“As a student, Tadd is very bright and creative. His work is original and always thoughtfully conceived,” Nguyen went on. “In addition, he worked very hard, for example even without the typical prerequisite course in Calculus III, Tadd finished at the very top of my probability class, surpassing even some students currently attending, or accepted to top Ph.D. programs in mathematics. I am very glad to see him growing as a student.”
Outside of Tadd’s experiences on the crew team, he also been involved in various other clubs at Marist. He was formerly an officer for the Marist Toastmasters, a club promoting public presentation. He also worked as a tutor for economics, a student software engineer, and also in the event staff and gym for Marist Athletics for his work study.
Tadd is also participates in the Marist Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC). “Two members from each team come together and talk about different NCAA rules, or simply things that are going on in Marist Athletics,” he explained. “They promote a lot of events that promote inclusivity and try to get everyone involved. They want to make one big athletics family.”
After finding himself bored early on freshman year, Tadd has since found countless ways to keep busy, even beyond crew — his extracurriculars extend off-campus as well. After his freshman year, Tadd was fortunate enough to secure an internship with Saucon Technologies in Bethlehem, Pa., a mobile asset tracking company.
Between his junior and senior year, Tadd spent the summer studying at Oregon State University in conjunction with Indiana University in a program through Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). This program involved eight weeks in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest studying hydrology. “Our whole goal was to try and use analytics so that math and computer science can predict where the water is moving,” Tadd said.
“It’s been excellent working with Tadd,” his research advisor Zion Klos said. “He’s a strong independent learner with a great personality to match. He always exemplifies a positive friendly attitude, while also being highly observant and critical of the world around him.”
“His professional and analytical abilities are exceptional, as are his creative thinking skills – the latter is the real key to being an amazing researcher and revolutionary thinker,” Klos continued. “He’ll be accomplishing much in his career ahead, this I’m sure.”
Currently, Tadd is completing a coveted co-op position with IBM. He started working for IBM after his sophomore year, followed by starting as a co-op during the fall semester of his junior year. Tadd goes to IBM’s Poughkeepsie campus twice a week to work in product engineering, where he is the liaison between clients and their machines and IBM and their developers.
“My favorite aspect of the job is that I have a lot of freedom and they respect me, not necessarily just the co-op, but as a fellow employee,” Tadd said. “It doesn’t matter what position you are or how old you are, everyone treats you the same.”
With a resume stacked with so much impressive experience, Tadd had a rather easy process of finding post-graduation plans. He only applied to three jobs in total, and ended up accepting a position from IBM in August of 2018. Tadd will be working in Poughkeepsie building upon the projects he has already been doing.
While his prospects in the future are exciting, Tadd knows that he will miss the people at Marist the most. Bindas credits Woods, Nguyen, Klos and the Director of the Honors Program and Tadd’s advisor, James Snyder, for helping him grow into who he is today.
“Tadd is one of the smartest students I have ever had the pleasure to advise in the Honors Program,” Snyder said. “He has a sharp intellect and an analytical mind. But over the years I have seen him evolve as he discovers what satisfies him intellectually. Tadd has always been academically talented.”
“In the end, Tadd is one of my favorite students I have ever advised,” Snyder said. “He has an electric and hilarious personality, and he has a high degree of emotional intelligence.”
“Honestly, I don’t think I’ll see another student like Tadd any time soon.”
Rowing has specifically shaped Tadd in certain ways, especially preparing him for the real world. He has learned to manage himself, to understand his emotions and body, and to make sacrifices. “In the end, I am doing what makes me happy. And being happy is fun,” Tadd said.
One of his biggest takeaways has been learning to maintain peace of mind amidst the stressors of school, rowing and life in general. “You cannot control when things go into a downward spiral,” Tadd said. This mindset has helped him achieve enormous success not only as a leader on the crew team, but also in his academics. “You just have to take a step back and breath. Relax and focus on what you can control.”
As Tadd is about to move on to life after college, he has set some personal goals for himself. For one, he wants to explore how far he can take his fitness and rowing. Tadd is one of the six people on the waitlist for the U.S. Rowing U23 selection camp, which only selects 21 athletes across the entire country to go to the World Championships. He ranks among the top 30 men in collegiate rowing.
“It would be cool to see how far I could go with that,” Tadd said. But his interests extend far beyond the grueling early morning practices of the crew team. “At the same time, I need to make money. At the same time, it would be really cool to get a Ph.D. or just go off to travel the world,” he said. “It would be awesome to do so many different things. There are so many different goals and so little time. I just have to do what I can and be really good at it.”
And if his next 20 years are any reflection of his first 20, Tadd will undoubtedly be really good at whatever he does.
Edited by the Center Field Editorial Team.
Header image by Kristin Flanigan.