Campus News

Athletic Director Sid Watson to Retire

Story posted September 15, 1997

BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Sidney J. Watson, Ashmead White Director of Athletics at Bowdoin College, will retire effective June 30, 1998.

Watson, who spent 24 years as men's ice hockey coach before becoming athletic director in 1983, will remain with the college in an advisory capacity following his retirement.

"The players, fans and alumni at Bowdoin have been incredibly supportive over the years," said Watson. "I will miss seeing young athletes grow and mature, both on the field and off, and the lessons they learn while playing sports here. I've been fortunate to have been associated with coaches and athletes committed to preserving Bowdoin's tradition of excellence and sportsmanship."

There will be a special celebration honoring Watson's years of service during Reunion Weekend in May 1998. A search committee to choose a successor is being chaired by Dean of Student Affairs Craig W. Bradley.

During Watson's tenure at Bowdoin, the athletic program grew to 29 varsity sports, five club teams, intramural competition in 10 sports and more than 20 physical education courses. He oversaw the construction of Farley Field House -- a swimming, track & field and exercise complex that opened in 1987 -- and a renovated fitness center that opened in 1996.

Watson will be forever linked to Bowdoin's men's hockey program, which he oversaw for more than two decades and developed into a four- time ECAC champion.

Watson's hockey teams compiled a record of 326-210-11 (.606). The Polar Bears won ECAC Division II championships in 1971, 1975, 1976 and 1978 during his tenure.

As hockey coach, Watson was a three-time winner of the Edward Jeremiah Memorial Trophy as national college division coach of the year (1970, 1971, 1978). In 1966, United Press International named him Eastern Small College Coach of the Year. In 1969 and 1970, he received the Clark Hodder Award as New England Coach of the Year.

In 1980, he coached the East Team in the first-ever NCAA East-West Collegiate All-Star Hockey Game. In 1983, he was presented with the prestigious Shaeffer Pen Award by the New England Hockey Writers for "outstanding contributions to New England hockey."

"Sid Watson's contributions to athletics at Bowdoin are unparalleled," said Bowdoin President Robert H. Edwards. "His vision and leadership, whether behind the bench at Dayton Arena on cold winter nights, or overseeing the growth and participation in our entire athletic program, will be missed. He has had a tremendous role in the education of thousands of Bowdoin students."

"Sid is a true Bowdoin legend and has been a great friend of generations of Bowdoin students," said Frederick G.P. Thorne '57, chair of the College Board of Trustees. "He has been an asset to the College for nearly 40 years, encouraging active participation in sports, strengthening the body as well as the mind. He has been a terrific role model."

A native of Andover, Mass., Watson attended Northeastern University on a basketball scholarship and joined the varsity football team as a freshman. He also began playing varsity hockey, despite having never played the sport in high school.

He was nicknamed "Century Sid" for his football field exploits -- averaging more than 100 yards per game as a running back. Some of his rushing records still stand.

Watson began playing with the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers before he graduated in 1956. He played for the Steelers for three years before joining the Washington Redskins for one season.

In 1958, despite the chance to play another year with the Redskins, he accepted the temporary position as Bowdoin's hockey coach. He co-coached the team that year with C. Nels Corey.

He took over as head coach the following season, beginning a storied career behind the bench.

Watson also coached varsity and freshman lacrosse and varsity golf at Bowdoin and was an assistant football coach. He also served as assistant to the director of athletics, director of Dayton Arena and physical education instructor. He directed summer swim programs at Bowdoin and the Portland (Maine) Country Club and in 1971 founded "The Clinic," a six-week summer hockey school at Bowdoin.

In addition to his hockey accolades, Watson was inducted into the Northeastern University Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 1986. He is also a member of the Andover Hall of Fame. In 1980, he was nominated as a Boston "Sports Legend" as part of that city's 350th anniversary celebration.

In 1984, Watson was the 22nd recipient of the Bowdoin Alumni Award for Faculty and Staff, recognizing outstanding service and devotion to the College. In 1967, Watson was made an honorary member of the Bowdoin Alumni Association. In 1970, he received a special citation from the Bowdoin College Alumni Council, a certificate of appreciation for outstanding service to the College, and a distinguished service certificate from the Bowdoin Fathers Association.

As director of athletics, Watson encouraged broader participation in intramural athletics and physical education, with an emphasis on "lifetime sports" such as swimming, running and racket games.

In 1996, Bowdoin dedicated the Sidney J. Watson Fitness Facility in a renovated space that formerly housed the Watson Nautilus Room. The new facility includes more than 5,000 pounds of free weights, a complete circuit of Cybex strengthening and toning equipment and more than 20 aerobic stations, including stationary bicycles, treadmills and rowing machines.

Watson served as a chairman of the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules and Tournament Committee for six years. He also served as president, vice president, secretary-treasurer and a member of the board of governors of the American College Hockey Coaches Association.

He also served in the U.S. Army Reserve signal corps, retiring with the rank of captain.

Watson is married to the former Henrietta Halloran of Concord, Mass. They have five children and 11 grandchildren.

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