After an extraordinarily successful 10 years at Bowdoin, Associate Athletic Director and Head Women's Basketball Coach Stefanie Pemper announced on Tuesday that she will leave Bowdoin for the position of Head Women's Basketball Coach at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Assistant Coach Julie Veilleux will accompany Pemper to coach the Division I program in Annapolis, Maryland. Pemper said that she expects to move sometime in the next two weeks.
In nine out of 10 seasons, Pemper guided her basketball team to NCAA bids, and from 2001 to 2007, the Polar Bears made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. According to a press release, Pemper is considered the most successful coach in Bowdoin women's basketball history.
"Every [conference] championship we won was amazing," Pemper said.
Out of 423 Division III teams in the nation, Bowdoin is the only to make six consecutive "Elite Eight" appearances. In 2006, the Polar Bears won their 70th consecutive home game, setting a New England basketball record.
Pemper said that her most recent season was "wonderful," and it posed "different challenges" than previous seasons.
"It was a good character-building year," Pemper said.
"It was a very special season, a great one to leave on," she added.
Pemper announced her decision to the women's basketball team on Tuesday afternoon. According to first year basketball player Christina Aceto, the team reacted to the news with "complete and utter shock."
"[Her decision is] definitely one that is completely respectable," Aceto said. "It's a great career move on her part."
Aceto said that Pemper is "an unbelievable coach."
"She's dedicated to making us better players and better people," Aceto said.
Pemper listed several aspects of her new job that she is looking forward to. At a Division I program, Pemper said she will work with a different kind of player.
"I'm excited to have scholarships to offer," she said, adding that she was attracted to the Naval Academy because of its excellence in academics as well as athletics.
According to Pemper, the position at Navy will be a "greater coaching challenge," and she will be managing a staff of four people.
Pemper is also eager to live in Annapolis, which she described as "a very vibrant area."
Director of Athletics Jeff Ward said that Bowdoin does not lose coaches very often.
"I'm a little in shock, I'm a little sad, and I'm happy for Stef," he said.
"I relied on her a lot for general athletic department advice and input, and I'll miss that," he added.
Ward said that the search for a replacement is already "well underway."
"We won't get somebody who is the same, but we hope to find somebody that's equally talented?now that's a high bar," he said.
"I'm very optimistic that we'll get a great coach," he said.
Aceto said that she is a little uneasy about having a new coach because she does not know what to expect.
"It will definitely be a huge transition for the team, but I think we'll handle it well," Aceto said.