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In a 35-year career as men’s basketball Head Coach Tim Gilbride focused on the little things

April 30, 2021

After serving as the Head Coach of the men’s basketball team for nearly four decades and earning a record-setting 494 wins, Tim Gilbride has announced that he will retire at the end of this academic year.

Arriving at Bowdoin in 1985, Gilbride only planned to stay for a couple of years.

“When I first started, I was hoping to be successful [at Bowdoin] temporarily and then use that to move on to a Division I position,” Gilbride said.

However, Gilbride quickly found himself changing his tune.

“After not too long, I forgot about my desire to leave … I fell in love with everything about Bowdoin. [My wife and I] raised our family here, we experienced the outdoors, and I was able to build special, lasting relationships with my colleagues and faculty members.”

Gilbride credits his players and the lasting bonds he has been able to form with keeping him at Bowdoin and making his time here so fulfilling and memorable.

“I’ve had so many rewarding experiences, just from the relationships that I’ve built over time with my players,” Gilbride said. “As players have graduated, I’ve gotten to watch them take what they learned from our program and their experiences [at Bowdoin] and carry those values over to their careers, families and roles as parents.”

Despite his plethora of success and vast experience with coaching various athletic teams, Gilbride also attributes much of his success to his athletes.

“I’ve been successful because I’ve had very talented and high-quality players on my team,” said Gilbride. “My players have always been unselfish and willing to work hard and buy into a team atmosphere.”

With each of his players, Gilbride hopes to provide a positive moral influence in order to prepare them for a diverse range of post-graduation pursuits.

“I hope that all my players always felt like they were a part of a team and were able to genuinely learn the skills of working hard and being unselfish,” Gilbride said. “Those characteristics have helped a lot of them carry on after Bowdoin and be successful with their careers and their families.”

Men’s basketball alumnus Drew Gagnon ’20 felt he was able to learn values from Gilbride that extended far beyond the basketball court.

“He taught me a lot about being mature and about how to behave and take responsibility for my actions as an adult,” Gagnon said in a phone interview with the Orient.

Former Polar Bear Jack Bors ’19 also affirmed the success of Gilbride’s efforts, emphasizing the way Gilbride made it clear that every player on the team had a unique role that needed to be fulfilled.

“He taught us that you can’t expect to rise to the top right away without a lot of hard work and without earning the respect of everybody first,” Bors said. “He expected the people who didn’t play [in games] to work just as hard as the best player on the team. It was humbling for everybody, and it showed us that accepting your role—however small or large it may be—is important.”

As intended, Bors believes the values Gilbride taught his players are applicable to responsibilities beyond Bowdoin.

“I think these lessons translate to whatever you do in your life; whether you’re part of a business, still with a team or even starting a family,” Bors said. “It’s always important to be able to figure out how you best fit into a new group and know that each person has his own part to play.”

Above all else, Gilbride’s outstanding character and kindness towards his athletes left an unforgettable impression on many of his former players, such as Gagnon.

“Gilbride truly cared about us as people, regardless of how well we were doing on the basketball court,” Gagnon said.

Bors had similar memories of Gilbride’s subtle yet impactful kindness, dating back to when he met his to-be coach for the first time while still in high school.

“I was on my recruiting visit [to Bowdoin], and when I was watching a practice, he had every current player walk over to me and introduce themselves to myself and my family,” Bors said. “It was a small act, but he went out of his way and had his players go out of their way to make me feel welcomed and at home. He always focused on the little things like that.”

In retirement, he hopes to spend more time with his family, especially his wife, with whom he shares a very close relationship even during the height of basketball season.

“[His wife] would sit behind him and yell at the referees during our games, and after the games ended he would walk around the gym with her and talk to her,” Gagnon said.

He also plans to pursue his passions outside of basketball and further explore Maine’s wilderness.

“I hope to spend more time fishing and actually become decent at golf, because I’m not right now,” Gilbride said.

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