Reaching Beyond Your Team:
Adrienne Shibles, Head Coach at Bowdoin College
Entering her 10th season as Head Coach at Bowdoin College, Adrienne Shibles has guided the Polar Bears to eight NCAA Tournament appearances along with a NESCAC title. A Bates College alum and Knox native, she is no stranger to Maine! She has served on staff at Babson, Colby (soccer), and Smith and also served at the helm of programs at Swarthmore, and Elms College. Additionally, she had stints as both Athletic Director and Dean of Athletics and Co-Curricular Programs at Gould Academy. Along with the program record-number of wins she has amassed at Bowdoin, she has helped create a culture that has the community eager to be involved with it.
Capitalize on What you Have
Bowdoin College is located right in the heart of Brunswick, Maine, filled with everyone from young families to retirees. At the center of the community, the location itself is inviting. When asked how they retain such a dedicated fan base, Shibles shared that her program will host frequent post-game receptions with fan to thank them for their continued support. They’ve also hosted potlucks after games, creating opportunities for supporters, alumni, families, and players to interact. Additionally, when they play in cities with a large population of alumni, such as Boston, they’ll host receptions at away games too!
“One of Bowdoin’s institutional values is serving the Common Good. The college attracts students who believe that a connection with their community is special, and we further emphasize that in the recruiting process. We want women on our team who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and who have a passion to give back.”
Talk About Your Expectations
In one-on-one meetings and group goal setting meetings, Shibles encourages her players to set at least one goal aligned with leading within the community or serving the community. Whether it’s serving the Bowdoin community or the Brunswick community, she stresses the importance in goals beyond basketball. Her team features leaders of SAAC, residential advisors, young women who advocate peer health, and are connected to the community in a variety of ways.
A couple other expectations she communicates with her team to set them apart:
- Sell hello to the attendant whether you are walking into your home gym or an opponent’s athletic center. Interactions matter!
- The players will write handwritten thank you notes when a donor, fan, or alum goes out of his or her way to support the program.
- Each camper gets a personalized evaluation at the end of camp, showing how much of an investment the staff (comprised of players and coaches) has in the campers.
- Shibles will bring in the Office of Career Planning during winter break, when there are no classes, to help build relationships between them and the players. It’s a great time to express the importance of career planning and take advantage of the “extra” time.
New to the program this year is a formal mentoring program linking juniors and seniors with alumni. Shibles is excited to launch this program, allowing players to seek first hand advice from those who have come before them. Tip for coaches looking to start an alumni program: it helps to have alum to assist in driving the program from their side. Whether it’s helping make the matches with players, or checking in with other mentors to ensure they are communicating, it’s beneficial to have help on the alumni side!
“I want to help prepare our student-athletes for life beyond Bowdoin. To do that, they need to push themselves on the court as well as in other ways within the larger community.”
Follow Coach Shibles on Twitter @Coachshibles !