If you noticed something different at the Bowdoin-Colby hockey game last weekend, it was probably a live rendition of “Sweet Caroline” or “The Middle” between periods, provided by the new Bowdoin Pep Band. The Pep Band was officially charted by Student Activities last fall, but it is not altogether new to Bowdoin sports culture. An older version of the club existed as recently as about 10 years ago and did everything from hyping up under-attended events to serenading the 1 a.m.
With his introduction as the 30th head coach of Bowdoin football (1-8), B.J. Hammer finds himself in a familiar spot: a hole. For the second time in four years, Hammer, a native of Carmel, Indiana, is taking over a struggling football program.
J.B. Wells will not return as head coach of the football team, the College announced in a November 15 press release. Wells, who led the Polar Bears to a 1-8 record in his fourth season as head coach, will finish his career with an overall record of 3-31, having led the team through the longest losing streak in program history of 24 games between November of 2015 and November of 2018.
All animals are sad after intercourse, the old saying goes. And following their climactic victory over Bates, one got the sense that the Polar Bears were, too. The day after victory is a sadly neglected moment in history: what did David do the day after bringing down Goliath?
This is the story of the best football game in Bowdoin history. November 9, 1963: For nearly 70 years, the Polar Bears had faced off against their archrival, the University of Maine Black Bears, in the culminating game of the season.
On the door to Coach J.B. Wells’ office is a poster emblazoned with the likeness of quarterback phenom Peyton Manning and the following quotation: “I wouldn’t have a single touchdown without someone to catch it, and someone to block for it, and someone to create the play, and someone to call it, and someone to celebrate it with.” Still mired in a 23-game losing streak, the longest in the program’s history, the Polar Bears have learned the truth of Manning’s wisdom in a literal way.
From the Hubbard Grandstand, the wooden frame of what will become Bowdoin football’s new locker room and training facility is just visible over the visiting team stands. It has no roof, no walls, no siding. Just a wooden frame.
I’ve been accumulating a list of pithy yet uplifting one-liners to open the story about Bowdoin football’s first victory in three years. “Gameday in Brunswick began with the campus enshrouded in a thick, gloomy mist. By game time, the fog had burned off to reveal a breathtaking September day.” Just imagine the possibilities.
When I arrived at Whittier Field 15 minutes before the start of practice, the place was vacant—or so I thought. While I was sitting in the Hubbard Grandstand, enjoying the fruits of the $8 million dollar renovation, a voice called up to me from the field.
August, says Head Football Coach J.B. Wells, is a great time to be a football coach—anywhere. “Has any team in America had a bad offseason? No. At this point in the season, every team in America is undefeated,” said Wells.
The Bowdoin football team (0-9) lost its final game of the season last Saturday against Colby (1-8) at home by a score of 31-20. The loss marks the program’s first pair of consecutive winless seasons. The Polar Bears led 17-10 at halftime and extended their lead to 20-10 partway through the third quarter, but Colby responded with 21 unanswered points.
Despite a winless record of 0-8 last season, the football team is energized to begin the upcoming season after renovations to Whittier Field updated the team’s facilities and the addition of a ninth game to the schedule allows the Polar Bears to play all NESCAC teams.