What About the Female Athletes? A discussion with Richard (Dick) Mersereau, ‘69
In this interview, Richard (Dick) Mersereau, widely known as Mers, discusses his time as a volunteer women’s basketball coach from 1975 until 1981. To hear about Dick’s ability to help improve the circumstances of female athletes on the basketball team during the ‘70s and early ‘80s, his responsibilities as a coach of one of the first women’s sports teams at Bowdoin, and the commitment that his players displayed to the team, listen below.
Audio: click title(s) below to begin listening
Time: Part 1, 00:02:40
Quotation: [In reference to beginning a career as a volunteer women’s basketball coach]“As far as they [the administration] were concerned, if a group of women wanted to do basketball, well, the good news was, we would respond, we would have a team. The less good news was, you know…get by as cheaply and as easily as they possibly could, which gave me, the 26-year old, an opportunity to coach, which I had never done before.”
Time: Part 1, 00:06:15
Quotation: [In reference to differences in treatment of the women and men’s basketball teams]“We practiced and played my first year there, the team’s second year, in Sargent gym, which was 10 feet shorter than regulation, had light coming in the windows if it was an afternoon game, and had dead spots…it was a second class facility. Being a child of the ‘60s and caring about the women I was coaching, I innocently asked somewhere toward the beginning of the season, ‘How come we’re practicing and playing in Sargent gym, and the men are in Morrell gym?’ And the answer came back, ‘Well the girls aren’t as good as the boys.’ In other words, the girls don’t deserve equal treatment because they’re not as accomplished.”
Time: Part 3, 00:02:40
Quotation: [In reference to describing how important basketball was to the female players] “We, as a collective group, cared as much about what we were doing, as much as the men’s team, as much as the hockey team. People tended to support one another. We’d finish our game and we’d go watch the hockey game cause that’s what else was going on. They’d announce our score. We took some pride in that.”
Citation: I, Jill Henrikson, interviewed Richard (Dick) Mersereau, Bowdoin class of 1969, in his office at the Cram Alumni House on October 21, 2011 in Brunswick Maine. We discussed Dick’s time as a volunteer coach of the women’s basketball team starting during the 1975-1976 season, and ending six years later after the 1980-1981 season.