Women’s athletics at Bowdoin have a long history, one that begins with the intrepid athletes in the first classes of women at the College. Want to learn more about how it all started?
Women’s sports at Bowdoin began within a year of coeducation. In the 1972-73 academic year, the College fielded two varsity women’s teams, field hockey and swimming (women were members of the men’s swim team). By the 1978-79 academic year the College hosted ten women’s teams. Sally LaPointe, the first female coach and overseer of women’s athletics, played a large role in encouraging and in tracking the development of women’s sports. The President also invested in this process, including a special segment on women’s athletics in the June 1, 1972 Report of the President’s Commission on Athletics.
The progress did not come easy for all women athletes or all sports, however. In one example of the challenges, volunteer women’s basketball coach Richard (Dick) Mersereau had to request that his team play full-time in Morrell gymnasium, where the men played, rather than in Sargent, the older, more run-down facility, where women were placed. In the same year, the women’s indoor track team brought “attention [to] the fact that the Women’s Indoor Track Team is [sic] not adequately coached.”
Overall, embodying the identity of either a female athlete or a person connected to women’s athletics at Bowdoin in the 1970’s involved great opportunities and some significant challenges. To hear and see the documented history of a program that is one of the most successful in Division III athletics today, delve into our athletics documents, images, and interviews.