Though the women's soccer team's season may be lost, its causes are not. Off the field, the team works together on a number of charity projects that benefit the Bowdoin and Brunswick communities, as well as those well beyond Cumberland County's limits.
These service efforts have largely been led by senior goalkeeper Kat Flaherty.
"I think community service is important for teams, and I have been trying to advocate for it around campus," said Flaherty. "We have the power to create change and be an example for other teams."
In high school, Flaherty was involved with some community service work, but as a three-sport athlete she was short on time.
"I remember stumbling into the McKeen Center [for the Common Good] my sophomore year," she said. "And since then, everyone there has been extremely helpful."
That year, she began volunteering at a nearby homeless shelter and teen center and her involvement has skyrocketed. Now, she is the co-leader of the homeless shelter and teen center groups at the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good and also works with terminally ill children at Camp Sunshine.
Flaherty coordinates many of the team's volunteer work, but said that "We all do stuff individually in addition to what the team does, and everyone is super supportive of everyone else."
Last year, women's soccer organized Lose the Shoes, working from January to May to plan a barefoot charity soccer tournament. Nearly 100 people participated, raising almost $1,000 for African children through Grassroots Soccer.
While many teams are involved with charity work and participated in Relay for Life last year, women's soccer was especially active. Every single player participated in the event and they composed almost half of the organizing committee. Overall, $50,000 were raised for the American Cancer Society.
Flaherty said the team's work off the field makes it more cohesive, as communication and teamwork are integral parts of all the service projects.
"[I am] a huge believer in team chemistry, as all of our work has been huge for transferring to the soccer field," she said.
Head Coach Maren Rojas said the players are incredibly self-motivated when it comes to their volunteer work; a quarter of the team is involved with some sort of ongoing mentoring project.
"I have never once told them they have to do community service," said Rojas. "They spearhead it all, and if they're doing something, I support it. They were already involved [when she became coach in 2007]; I just exposed them to some additional things. That's the way it should be."
One of the team's ongoing projects is through the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital in Portland. Flaherty contacted Friends of Jaclyn, an organization that helps sports teams volunteer with brain cancer patients to find volunteer opportunities, but the organization had too long of a waiting list to place the Polar Bears.
Flaherty then approached the Children's Hospital, which introduced the team to Lindsay Merritt, a 12-year-old with bone cancer.
In association with the Make a Wish Foundation, Merritt's dream was to have a party with all of her friends; when she did, the team attended.
Merritt passed away on October 7, and while the party was the last time the team got to see her, team members continue to volunteer at the Children's Hospital once a month in her memory.
The team was very important to Merritt, and her obituary in The Lincoln County News notes that she was "an honorary member of the Bowdoin Women's Soccer Team."
Larkin Brown '10, who played soccer while at Bowdoin, is making her mark a little farther away from home.
After going to Nicaragua last year with a few teammates to work with Soccer Without Borders, Brown is currently devoting a year to the cause.
"Community service isn't about how much money you make, and it doesn't have to be a huge production. The littlest things can make a huge difference, whenever you do them," said Flaherty.
"This is the fourth institution I've worked for, and never has community service work happened to the extent it does here," said Rojas. "I can tell that the McKeen Center is really reaching people around campus."
The team's volunteer work also includes the DodgeAIDS dodgeball tournament and springtime involvement in the Longfellow School's physical education classes.
Director of Athletics Jeff Ward also plays a big part with what the team has been able to do, said Flaherty.
"He basically said he would go to the end of the world to help us reach our goals," Flaherty noted. "I couldn't think of someone better."
Flaherty said she believes the team's community service efforts will continue even after she graduates.
"I think that having 27 great teammates who all realize life isn't all about the soccer field has been great, and that this attitude will continue long after I leave," Flaherty said. "I've just been facilitating things...While I do personally initiate some things, I really wouldn't be able to do any of it without my teammates. They are the ones who make it all happen."
New leaders are sure to emerge, likely including Casey Blossom '13, who led a Grassroots program at her high school and has been highly involved in volunteer work at Bowdoin.
Her hope is that the team's current projects will endure.
"If Lose the Shoes and the Children's Hospital work can become even better than what they are now, I will know that my grade has left its mark," she said.