When Megan Phelps ’15 dislocated her ankle in a walkthrough during her senior year at Bowdoin, she easily could have left basketball behind. Instead, she parlayed the injury into an unofficial assistant coaching role for the rest of the 2014-15 season.
Seven years later, Phelps has a new coaching gig—this time, as head coach of the very program that she once captained.
For Phelps, accepting the head coaching role at her alma mater was the next logical step in her coaching career. Following graduation from Bowdoin in 2015, Phelps went on to serve as a graduate assistant at Regis University while earning her master’s degree in communications.
After two years learning from Head Coach Angela Santa Fe at Regis, Phelps returned to Brunswick as the lead assistant under the winningest head coach in the history of Bowdoin women’s basketball, Adrienne Shibles. Phelps stayed with the Polar Bears for four years (2017-2020) before following Shibles to Dartmouth College, where she took on the additional role of recruiting coordinator.
Now back in Brunswick for a third stint, Phelps is eager to return her beloved Polar Bears to their winning ways after an injury-ridden 2021-22 season.
“A championship is always our goal,” Phelps said. “But the best teams are the ones that stay focused on the process of achieving that every single day.”
Building championship habits is the first step to unlocking the potential of a Phelps-led basketball team, but understanding this new iteration of one of Bowdoin’s most storied programs would be impossible without considering the tactical prowess of Phelps.
When Phelps was injured as a player under Shibles, her then-head coach actually encouraged her to sit next to the coaches on the bench during games.
That year, in a Sweet Sixteen matchup against Montclair State, Phelps, sitting to the left of Shibles, shared all the tactical advantages she noticed, whether they were mismatches, scoring opportunities or nuanced weaknesses of the opposition.
“She has the coach’s mind,” Shibles said. “That was the moment where I turned to her after the game and said, ‘You must go into this profession.’”
And Phelps did just that.
“It was a perfect silver lining situation that has turned into this career that I love so much,” Phelps said.
Now, Phelps is ready to carve out her own path in the history books of Bowdoin women’s basketball. She is embracing the legacy of the College’s past while encouraging her players to prepare for a promising future.
“I am really confident in who I am and what I bring,” Phelps said. “I love the tie [to Shibles], but I am not worried about blazing my own path. My process will be different, but I hope the results will be the same. If we can recover from setbacks, that’s what can set this team apart.”
One of Phelps’s first orders of business was to hire fellow Bowdoin alumna Abby Kelly ’19 as her assistant coach. Phelps coached Kelly, who played for the Polar Bears from 2015 to 2019, during her time as an assistant at the College.
In addition to being a first team All-American and NESCAC Player of the Year during her 2018-19 campaign, Kelly also served as an assistant for the Noble and Greenough School for two years after graduating from Bowdoin.
Going into the 2022-23 campaign, Bowdoin women’s basketball has a new look, a new feel, a new energy—an energy spurred off the backs of a young, process-oriented coach and an exciting team ready to rise.