Over the course of her 13-year career at Bowdoin, women’s basketball Head Coach Adrienne Shibles has impacted the lives of each of her athletes and brought the program to unprecedented heights. Under her leadership, the team appeared at the NCAA tournament 11 times and won two NESCAC championships, solidifying Shibles’ spot as Bowdoin’s winningest women’s basketball coach of all time. Shibles, who recently accepted a head coaching position at Dartmouth College, leaves an indelible mark on the program that will persist even after her departure from Bowdoin.
While saddened to see her go, players expressed an overwhelming sense of gratitude to have had her as a coach and mentor.
“I wish everyone could have a mentor like Coach Shibles as a young woman figuring themselves out in college,” Dorian Cohen ’21, a member of the women’s basketball team, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
“She’s been a really influential mentor in my life, and I’m just really thankful that I got four years with her,” Annie Maher ’21, another member of the women’s basketball team, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Shibles’ impact was so strong that even recent alumni still credit her mentorship abilities.
“For me, she just embodies what it means to be an advocate, and she really embraced what it meant to be a coach,” Olivia Ware ’20, an alumna of the women’s basketball team, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
While Shibles may have been a coach first and foremost, her athletes cited that her influence extended well beyond the court.
“She is one of the first people to cheer me on when something good happens,” Maddie Hasson ’20, a former member of the women’s basketball team, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “She’s someone I go to for advice, basketball-related and otherwise. I think that she’s really shown all of us that she’s willing to show up for us no matter what, and she’s there as a mentor long after we leave Bowdoin.”
Shibles fostered an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect in the team, which proved instrumental to both her own and the team’s success.
“She really enforced the idea of trust and vulnerability and of being open… and saying no to things and having real emotions,” Cohen said.
For Shibles, it was just as important to foster the development of her athletes as individuals as it was to help them grow as players.
“She taught us the importance of being not just exceptional basketball players, but overall good people, and to give back to the community,” Ware said.
Shibles’ emphasis on developing her athletes’ character started well before players became members of her team.
“She’s not going to recruit the best player on the court if they have a terrible attitude on the bench,” Maher said. “She’s really looking for people that are going to buy into this program. I think by recruiting players that are good people, it creates an atmosphere that develops a successful program because everyone just has a lot of buy-in.”
Once the recruits arrived at Bowdoin, players were able to develop their leadership skills through Shibles’ shared leadership model.
“[In this model,] everyone on the team has a voice and a say in what’s happening with the team—even [first years] are contributing in small team meetings. She’s pushing them to talk on the court and [to] hold older players accountable,” Maher said. “As a [first year], I was pretty timid and relied on the older players quite a bit, but [Shibles] really pushed me to work in areas that I didn’t even know I could get better at.”
Reflecting on a favorite memory from her career, Hasson recalled not just her excitement at winning the NESCAC Championship in 2020, but that so many Bowdoin women’s basketball alumni who had played for Shibles were there to share in the moment.
“I think that really speaks to the connection between all of us and how she’s established such a strong program. There are so many people who feel connected just because we’ve all played under the same coach,” Hasson said.
Shibles leaves a powerful legacy that will live on in her athletes and in Bowdoin athletics at large for years to come.
“Our team values are what make us successful—our commitment to high standards, our passion to compete, our accountability—and I think those are things that have stemmed from her,” Cohen said. “But, those are [also] standards that we work on and update as a team, so even though Coach Shibles is leaving, those standards and values will persist.”