Strange things happen when you’re very high up. You lose perspective. Things get a little blurry. Vertigo sets in. And if this past week of women’s basketball has been one thing, it has been vertiginous. After walking all over Middlebury in Saturday’s semifinal, the Polar Bears suffered their first loss of the season, falling to third-ranked Tufts, 69–75, in the finals of the NESCAC tournament on Sunday.
Textbook. Flawless. Ideal. Unrivaled. Masterly. Exemplary. Superlative. Pick your adjective. But one descriptor will attach itself to Bowdoin women’s basketball regular season regardless of what thesaurus you pick up: perfect. The final weekend of the women’s basketball season was a one-two-punch that dispelled any doubt—if there was any still hanging around—about the Polar Bears’ on-court dominance.
For Bowdoin women’s basketball (20-0, NESCAC 6-0), the story of Saturday’s 65-56 victory over the Amherst Mammoths (17-2, NESCAC 4-1) began 315 days earlier in Rochester, Minnesota. It was there, in the Mayo Civic Center, that the undefeated Mammoths finished off the Polar Bears, 65-45, to earn their second consecutive Division III National Championship title.
With his introduction as the 30th head coach of Bowdoin football (1-8), B.J. Hammer finds himself in a familiar spot: a hole. For the second time in four years, Hammer, a native of Carmel, Indiana, is taking over a struggling football program.
All animals are sad after intercourse, the old saying goes. And following their climactic victory over Bates, one got the sense that the Polar Bears were, too. The day after victory is a sadly neglected moment in history: what did David do the day after bringing down Goliath?
This is the story of the best football game in Bowdoin history. November 9, 1963: For nearly 70 years, the Polar Bears had faced off against their archrival, the University of Maine Black Bears, in the culminating game of the season.
On the door to Coach J.B. Wells’ office is a poster emblazoned with the likeness of quarterback phenom Peyton Manning and the following quotation: “I wouldn’t have a single touchdown without someone to catch it, and someone to block for it, and someone to create the play, and someone to call it, and someone to celebrate it with.” Still mired in a 23-game losing streak, the longest in the program’s history, the Polar Bears have learned the truth of Manning’s wisdom in a literal way.
From the Hubbard Grandstand, the wooden frame of what will become Bowdoin football’s new locker room and training facility is just visible over the visiting team stands. It has no roof, no walls, no siding. Just a wooden frame.
I’ve been accumulating a list of pithy yet uplifting one-liners to open the story about Bowdoin football’s first victory in three years. “Gameday in Brunswick began with the campus enshrouded in a thick, gloomy mist. By game time, the fog had burned off to reveal a breathtaking September day.” Just imagine the possibilities.
When I arrived at Whittier Field 15 minutes before the start of practice, the place was vacant—or so I thought. While I was sitting in the Hubbard Grandstand, enjoying the fruits of the $8 million dollar renovation, a voice called up to me from the field.
August, says Head Football Coach J.B. Wells, is a great time to be a football coach—anywhere. “Has any team in America had a bad offseason? No. At this point in the season, every team in America is undefeated,” said Wells.