The women's basketball team is back in the NESCAC semifinals, thanks in large part to senior captain Katie Bergeron. Bowdoin has now reached the semis in each of the past 11 years—every year since the women's tournament began. With a record of 21-4, the team is now ranked 24th in D-III women's basketball.
In the team's 69-51 win against Bates last weekend, Bergeron scored 18 points with six rebounds, five steals and four assists—all Bowdoin highs for the game.
Bergeron is averaging a team-leading 11.8 points and 2.1 steals per game, marks that place her sixth and seventh in the conference respectively. Bergeron also averages 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
Over her career, Bergeron has accumulated some impressive stats. Coming into the season, she was ranked third in Bowdoin history with a career free-throw percentage of .801, and her .842 mark from last year was the fifth-highest ever in a season. Also, she is currently tied for second all-time in three-pointers with a total of 153, just eight behind the leader. Earlier this year, Bergeron became the 11th Bowdoin player ever to pass the 1,000-point plateau for her career.
At the end of her junior year of high school, Bergeron decided to hold off on the college application process for a year and take a post-graduate year to better her chances of being able to play for a NESCAC school and give her more time to make the decision of which school to play for. She attended the Taft School in Connecticut, where the recruiting process was heightened, and allowed her to get into Bowdoin, her first-choice school.
"I like Bowdoin basketball because I enjoy being a part of a small team and working toward a common goal, especially when we can be successful," she said.
Bergeron admits that as a shy, self-conscious first year on the team, however, she took few risks and played a technically straightforward game.
A 5'7" guard, Bergeron was named the 2008 Maine State Rookie of the Year by the Maine Women's Basketball Coaches Association (MWBCA). She was a MWBCA Co-Player of the Week earlier this month, and was the NESCAC Player of the Week in November.
"Through the years," she said, "I've tried to develop not only as a leader on the court but as a vocal leader off the court building up a team unity, which I think is really important."
That team will be tested in this weekend's semifinal matchup against No. 2 Colby at Amherst. A repeat of last year, when the Mules won 75-64, the semifinal game signals the continuation of the strong rivalry between the two schools. Earlier this year, Bowdoin beat Colby twice by a combined 15 points.
"Everyone knows its really hard to beat a team three times in a season," she said, "but I wouldn't consider us the same team now we were earlier in the year. We've been putting more emphasis on accountability, with individual players setting specific goals and working on our quickness and defense more, so we can challenge the labels about being soft and undersized that some people put on us earlier."
With No. 1 Amherst having won in two of the past three years, No. 3 Bowdoin has its work cut out for it. The Lord Jeffs have lost only a few games per year in recent seasons, but Bowdoin beat them in the 2009 NESCAC championship game and stayed close to them in their game earlier this year.
Bowdoin is the winningest women's basketball team in NESCAC tournament history, having won the championship every year from its inauguration in 2001 until 2007, and then again in 2009. Only twice has a non-first seeded team won the championship (Bowdoin in 2001 as the 3-seed and again in 2006 as the 2-seed), but Bergeron hopes to beat the odds one more time.
"I consider myself a very competitive person," she said, "and I think basketball allows not only for team success but also individual achievement. The skills you learn outside of the technical aspect of the sport helped me develop as a person off the court."
This year especially, Bergeron has worked to get the Athletics Department more involved with awareness groups on campus. As a key participant in Out Allies and the Anything But Straight In Athletics event, Bergeron has worked to spread awareness of LGBTQ issues amongst the sports teams. Brian Burke, the general manager of Toronto Maple Leafs and the 2010 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, is coming to campus this spring to give a talk about sexual diversity in the sports world as part of the initiative.
"I think that Athletics is a powerful [department], especially at Bowdoin, to help get points across," she said.
In addition, Bergeron has been part of her team's volunteer effort to help out with basketball clinics in the Harpswell Community Schools.
"I think it's a good way to reach out to the community and give back to all the little girls that come to our games," she said, "and it's a fun way to do community service."
After she graduates, Bergeron wants to keep basketball a part of her life.
"The thought of playing overseas is something I've been seriously considering and discussing with my coach," she said, "and I could definitely see myself coaching someday. I can't really see myself completely removing myself from the game, ever."
"I would love to be remembered as someone who helped bring her team to exceed expectations as a collective unit and go further than expected," she continued. "I think our team has always been in the spotlight, but the NESCAC is one of the best D-III basketball conferences, so we can't really rest on our reputation anymore. Just being able to go as far as we can is something I really take pride in."