Athletics at Bowdoin in the 1980s were full of both tradition and change. While many well-established Bowdoin sports teams continued to face other colleges in the area and bring back a mix of wins and losses, other teams were formed or dissolved over the decade as the College’s athletics department and athletes worked to comply with Title IX.
Juggling new teams, conference championships and a subpar decade for the football team, Bowdoin’s athletic department faced triumphs, changes and challenges throughout the 1970s. In 1971, the College’s Board of Trustees and the President at the time, Roger Howell Jr., officially ruled in favor of co-education and accepted Bowdoin’s first class of women.
An estimated 10,000 spectators flocked to Whittier Field one Saturday afternoon in the fall of 1960 to witness what the Boston Globe referred to as the game of the week between Bowdoin and the University of Maine.
Editor’s Note 11/16/20 at 7:27 p.m.: This article has been updated to reflect the correct names of Dayton Arena and Garry Merrill, as well as the amount of time that Ed Langbein ’57 spent as manager of Bowdoin’s football team.
Though life looked different at the College in 1930—all-male with fraternities on the rise—athletics were, just as they are now, a central part of the Bowdoin experience. Roughly 560 students were enrolled at the start of the 1930-31 academic year, and many played more than one sport, leaving some teams, such as football, with a lack of players for off-season training.
Football, cross country, track, baseball, tennis and ice hockey. In 1920, almost all of these Bowdoin athletic teams were funded by a committee outside the College’s budget—the Bowdoin Athletic Association (BAA)—without direct support from the College.