The Bowdoin College Athletic Hall of Honor, established in 2002, inducts six members into its ranks biannually for significant achievements within the Bowdoin athletic community. This year’s inductees include an All-American volleyball player, prolific men’s ice hockey coach, a three-sport athlete, an All-American lacrosse goaltender and a national championship winning tennis doubles pairing. They will be honored at an induction ceremony tomorrow.
Kristin Hanczor ’12
In one of her first meetings with then-Head Coach Karen Corey, women’s volleyball middle blocker Kristin Hanczor ’12 said that her goal was to win a NESCAC championship, a feat the team had never accomplished.
Three years later, Hanczor scored the final point against Middlebury College in the NESCAC final in Morrell Gymnasium.
“We had a long rally. I set the ball, and I hit it down for a kill, and I immediately dropped to the floor. All my teammates jumped on me, and it was this absolutely surreal experience,” Hanczor said. “It was really amazing to watch our team and program say, ‘We’re going to shoot for the moon’ and … to win it in such a wonderful way at home.”
Over the course of her collegiate career, Hanczor earned the school record in career blocks, racked up 1,112 career kills, became the first Bowdoin volleyball player to receive All-American honors and led the volleyball team to its first NESCAC championship in 2011. Off the court, Hanczor spent her time initiating the athletic department’s first sustainability programming and helped kickstart the green athletics program.
“This connection of competition, unity and perseverance and all of the great characteristics that really describe an athlete … can be leveraged to create a positive impact on our world,” Hanczor said. “That’s what inspired me to try to find the overlap between sustainability and athletics.”
Hanczor returned to serve as the assistant coach in 2014 and 2015 and led the team to another NESCAC championship. She continued to emphasize sustainability in her role as the College’s Sustainability Outreach Coordinator.
“Something I really appreciate about volleyball is the ability for a group of women from all over the country who have all had different life experiences to be able to come together, set their sights on a goal and figure out a way to succeed,” Hanczor said. “When people come together as a unit and believe in one another, you can accomplish what you want. That’s still applicable to me today.”
Over the course of his 33-year tenure at Bowdoin, legendary men’s ice hockey coach Terry Meagher won 542 games, two NESCAC titles, two Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championships, qualified for the NCAA tournament six times and became notorious for his integrity and leadership. Meagher came to Bowdoin in 1983, succeeding another iconic coach, Sid Watson.
Meagher credits much of the team’s consistent success to the standards he and his first players set early.
“It all started with that first class. We tried to build on things that are really important—respect the game, play an honest game, represent the program well, be good teammates,” Meagher said. “The wins and losses will take care of themselves in the long run, but it’s the process that’s the most important thing.”
Meagher cited many highlights during his time at Bowdoin: the championships, the team’s transition to Sidney J. Watson Arena in 2009, the community support and the quality of the people in the program.
“The community support over the years for the program has been fabulous,” Meagher said. “What sticks out to me the most is the quality of the people that we’ve had in the program, the level of play, the players and the good people I worked with over the years.”
When Meagher came to Bowdoin, he planned to stay for around ten years. Ten quickly turned into 20, and 20 turned into 30.
“Bowdoin hockey mattered. Not only in the community and in the league, but nationally…. After everything Coach Watson did, Bowdoin was an iconic program,” Meagher said. “That kept me here. And the fact that they let me stay.”
Meagher emphasized hockey’s role in developing leadership and integrity.
“Sports that have an educational component and are philosophically in concert with school are one of the tools we have to develop leadership and character. I think Bowdoin has always stood by that philosophy,” Meagher said.
Oscar Pena ’12 and Stephen Sullivan ’11
In 2011, Oscar Pena ’12 and Stephen Sullivan ’11 won the NCAA men’s doubles championship—the first tennis championship in Bowdoin history—and cemented themselves into Polar Bear record books forever. The title served not as a sole moment of excellence, but as a capstone on two illustrious Bowdoin men’s tennis careers.
Pena had already played in that very same match his first year at the College, but had to settle for silver until he and Sullivan’s success three years later. Sullivan also proved dangerous on the court during his three prior years to the championship season, with semifinal and quarterfinal appearances in the singles bracket as well as a 2008 NESCAC championship to his name.
While the two trained against each other before their time at Bowdoin when they were growing up in Miami, Fla., they never shared the same side of the court until they were paired up during Sullivan’s senior season. The decision proved fruitful for then-coach Colin Joyner when the pair won NCAAs six months later.
For Sullivan, he admittedly did not have a championship on his radar when the tournament began.
“We just went on a run where we won most of our matches. It was special to have the opportunity to play with [Pena]. We had low expectations but just played an amazing tournament,” Sullivan said.
While Pena was also thrilled with their on-the-court success, it is everything that happened off the court that he remembers all these years later.
“I enjoyed the team and how tight it was. Everyone got along. [There was] a very strong bond throughout the years, even with people that I didn’t particularly play with,” Pena said.
Sullivan echoed his doubles partner’s sentiment.
“There’s something special in terms of the chemistry and the commitment. I think that the number one thing that I always remember is just the relationships with everyone on the team. Those relationships continue to grow outside of Bowdoin. It’s just really special. It’s a really special program,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan and Pena also emphasized how their experience on the court prepared them for their professional and personal journeys ahead.
“You have to develop mentally, and you have to struggle on your own a lot. So it teaches you a lot about life and about managing your emotions, managing challenging moments. When I’m working or certain things happen in life, it feels like tennis has prepared me a lot for those moments psychologically,” Sullivan said.
Dee Spagnuolo ’96
Dee Spagnuolo ’96 was a three-sport athlete at Bowdoin, captaining the field hockey, ice hockey and softball teams. By the time she graduated, Spagnuolo held eight individual field hockey goalkeeping records—three of which she retains to this day.
After losing the 1994 ECAC semifinals in a penalty shootout, Spagnuolo and the field hockey team resolved to win the championship title in the 1995 season—Spagnuolo’s final season with the team. The team proved successful and came back in overtime to clinch the title against Hartwick College.
“That was a proud moment, not just because of the outcome but because every day we worked towards that goal and really had identified that goal from the first day of preseason,” Spagnuolo said.
Spagnuolo’s four years at Bowdoin were marked by significant changes to collegiate women’s ice hockey, including the establishment of divisions and expansion of opportunities in the New England region available to female players.
“It just felt like being a part of that growth, pushing for that growth and raising the visibility of women’s ice hockey was something that I was proud to be a part of,” Spagnuolo said.
Now an attorney at Ballard Spahr law firm, Spagnuolo represented the national women’s ice hockey team in 2017 in its fight for equal treatment from USA Hockey—drawing on her experiences playing collegiate ice hockey. The team boycotted the World Championships until the terms of the deal were secured and then went on to win the title that year.
Looking back, Spagnuolo cherishes her experience as a Bowdoin athlete and encourages current athletes to enjoy their time playing for the College.
“The idea of having the resources behind you to be able to compete with friends and become almost like family with some of the best coaches in the country in an athletic program that is highly regarded and highly respected—that is something that is truly a once in a lifetime [experience],” Spagnuolo said.
Danny Cisneros ’84
In his four years as the men’s lacrosse goaltender at Bowdoin, Danny Cisneros ’84 led the team to three ECAC championship titles and was named a Division III All-American in his junior and senior seasons. Because the team was not allowed to compete in the NCAA tournament at the time, Cisneros is proud of the team’s accomplishments within the ECAC.
“We as a team won the ECACs three times out of four, which is hard to do, and that was as far as we could get in any kind of postseason so we’re very proud of the fact that we did it consistently,” Cisneros said.
After graduating from Bowdoin, Cisneros moved back to his home state of Colorado to coach at the University of Denver, Kent Denver School, Mullen High School and Regis University. While coaching at the Kent Denver School, Cisneros led the team to the state championship game four times and earned the title twice—adding onto an impressive record of 43 wins and only four losses.
“In all of that is the coach that I had in college. [He] had a big impact on my life for the rest of my life. Basically, he taught me how to coach and how to have a passion for a sport that was, at least in Colorado at that time, [not] too big,” Cisneros said.
With his forty years of coaching, Cisneros emphasizes the lessons his coaches taught him while playing for Bowdoin.
“You have to be so good the coach can’t afford to keep you off the field or court or whatever,” Cisneros said. “And that’s what I got from playing for him, is that he made me work harder. He made me be disciplined, to get better on my own and then take all the stuff that he was teaching us during games and stuff and put that together.”