On March 17, USA Basketball announced that Adrienne Shibles, head coach of Bowdoin women’s basketball, will serve as the 2021 head coach of the U16 National Team. Shibles will be responsible for developing the team throughout the year and will take a month off from Bowdoin women’s basketball to lead the national team in a tournament run by the Federal International Basketball Association (FIBA).
“We start competition June 20 in Santiago, Chile,” Shibles said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “It’s about a ten-day to two-week competition, which I’m really looking forward to. There are still some question marks with regards to COVID[-19] and how it’s all going to happen, but USA Basketball is confident that it will happen.”
Shibles expects to confront new obstacles coaching the national team, but she remains optimistic.
“I’ll be dealing with a diverse group of student athletes, and so really bringing that mindset to the table and being present to support them is going to be really important,” Shibles said. “There will be pressure, and so managing the pressure as a staff but also for the student athletes is going to be really important.”
Shibles spent time as a court coach for the USA Women’s U16 National Team in 2019, which gave her a base understanding of what to expect going forward with this new team.
“I learned that even though these are the top players in the country for their age, they are young women who come from a wide range of backgrounds,” said Shibles. “Keeping things really simple and not skipping ahead to teach more intricate concepts to them is really important as I think that builds confidence in the student athletes.”
In addition to her experience at the national-level, Shibles coached at Babson College for a year, at Colby for two years and at Swarthmore for nine, all of which honed her coaching abilities and shaped her coaching philosophy.
As the current head coach for women’s basketball at Bowdoin, Shibles has focused her efforts on developing her players on and off the court as both athletes and young women.“My coaching philosophy is really centered around the notion that coaches are educators and that basketball is a tool to teach women lessons about themselves and how to rise as leaders,” said Shibles. “Every day I’m showing up looking to develop the players as far more than just basketball players.”
Bringing Bowdoin to two Division III national championship games in the past three years, Shibles’ coaching philosophy has helped the team successfully compete with and win against most Division III schools across the country, regardless of their size.
Shibles emphasized the importance of working with players who share the team’s values as one of the keys to success.
“There’s definitely an element of hard work, both from the players and recruiting, with myself and my assistant coach,” Shibles said. “Most importantly, we look for the right people who share our team values, and we are really intentional about that.”
Shibles also hopes to build strong relationships with the young women on the national team like she has with her team at Bowdoin.
“I think it will be even more important that we as the staff work to make those connections to support them because as much as they’re the top talent in the nation, they are young teenage girls,” said Shibles. “There’s a lot of pressure on them, and I want to develop them not only as players but again as leaders and to be resilient and bring all those qualities to the floor that are going to also help them in life.”
Shibles also sees the opportunity to coach the U16 national team as a chance for professional growth. And, with the help from Assistant Coach Megan Phelps, Bowdoin women’s basketball will remain under great leadership during Shibles’ month away with the national team.
“Even though it will be challenging to have me gone for one month, and that will all fall on [Phelps], I do think that in the long run it’s really going to pay off,” Shibles said. “I will learn and grow from this process, and I know that [Phelps] and I can balance this load together while I’m gone, and I’m just again so blessed to have her here.”