Campus News

Bowdoin Athletic Hall of Honor Launched

Story posted October 18, 2002

On October 19, Bowdoin College Athletics Department began a new era with the opening of the Bowdoin College Athletic Hall of Honor. Founded "to perpetuate the memory of those persons who have brought distinction, honor and excellence to Bowdoin through their athletic accomplishments," the inaugural class represents the best that Bowdoin has to offer.

The five members selected as the initial class inducted are:

Joan Benoit Samuleson '79,
Ken Martin '69
C. Nels Corey '39,
Jill Bermingham Isenhart '86
Sidney J. Watson

When one looks at the history of athletics at Bowdoin College, one name recurs in its successes through several decades: C. Nels Corey. Considered one of the greatest athletes in the history of the College, he was also a versatile and distinguished coach at the institution he called home. A member of Bowdoin's Class of 1939, Corey was a Williamson System All-American (1938) and was selected for All-Maine honors in football two of his three years at tackle. He was also named to the All-New England hockey team as a goalie and played first base on the baseball squad. In 1955, he returned to Bowdoin and was named line coach in football, as well as coach of freshman hockey and baseball, before being promoted to the head hockey position. In 1957, Nels became the first lacrosse coach - not just in Bowdoin's history but also in the state of Maine. In 1959, Corey took the reins of the football squad. In six seasons, his teams went 22-20-1 with two state championships (1960 and 1963). In 1991, Corey received the prestigious Martin William Souders Award for "a graduate of a New England independent school who has made a distinguished record in sports and in life through high ideals, leadership and accomplishments." In 1997 he was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame. A native of Lynn, Massachusetts, Corey graduated Bowdoin with a degree in mathematics. He resides in Gardiner, Maine, with his wife, Kaye Monaghan Corey.

For most athletes, dominating one sport is a great accomplishment. Dominating two sports is extraordinarily rare. Dominating three is spectacular. With that in mind, there is perhaps no more versatile athlete in the history of Bowdoin athletics than Jill Bermingham Isenhart, who starred for Bowdoin ice hockey, soccer, and lacrosse teams. Jill Bermingham was a force from day one at Bowdoin, capturing second-team All-New England honors as a freshman on the women's soccer team that won the NIAC Championship. Her career records speak for themselves: in soccer, she still holds school records for most single-season goals (18), most single-season points (42) and most points in a single game (8). In lacrosse, she holds the records for single season goals (66), assists (21), and points (87). She also holds the record for career goals (145) and career points (183), even though assists records were not kept her first year. In hockey, she graduated holding the records for single-season goals (30), most goals in a game (5) and most career hat tricks (6). A native of South Londonderry, Vermont, Isenhart graduated Bowdoin with a double major in government and environmental studies. Her father, Eldredge (Class of 1950), and brother, Eldredge Jr. (Class of 1975), are Bowdoin alumni. She resides in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband, Chip, and their two children.

In his three years of varsity hockey at Bowdoin, Ken Martin set a standard of excellence that carried the Polar Bears to national prominence. The very first Bowdoin player to eclipse the 100-point mark - even though he played only three seasons - Martin was an All-ECAC performer all three years. His first season, as a sophomore in 1966-67, the Polar Bears went 9-11. His junior year saw Bowdoin post an 11-9 mark. His senior year, with Martin as their captain, the Bears went 14-6-1. That senior season put Bowdoin on the hockey map as Martin captured the ECAC Most Valuable Player Award and the New England Hockey Writers' Joseph Tomasello Award for an Unsung Hero. That sentiment captures what Martin was: a quiet leader and the first real superstar in the Bowdoin hockey program. In 2000, Martin notched his 500th career victory as hockey coach at the Belmont Hill School, where he also teaches Latin. In 2002 he was inducted into the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches' Hall of Fame. Ken Martin is a native of and resides in Framingham, Massachusetts, with his wife, Linda. The Martins have two children. Ken graduated Bowdoin with a degree in Latin.

An immortal in the world of collegiate hockey, Sid Watson guided the Bowdoin hockey program to extraordinary heights during his career behind the bench. As an undergraduate at Northeastern, Sid became one of the greatest gridiron players in school history. He averaged more than 100 yards per game and 7.1 yards per carry during his career as a running back. He still holds Northeastern's school records for most career points (191) and single-season points (74). Watson then moved on to play in the National Football League with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins. In 1958, despite the chance to play another year in the NFL, Watson accepted a temporary position as Bowdoin's hockey coach. Watson grew to love the game while at Northeastern, although he never played competitively. After one season as a co-coach with Nels Corey, Watson took over the position full-time in 1959. Over the next 24 seasons, Watson's teams compiled a record of 326-210-11 (.606). In the postseason, Watson's teams qualified for the ECAC playoffs every year but once from 1969 to 1983, reaching the ECAC Championship Game six times. The Polar Bears won the ECAC Division II Championship four times, in 1971, 1975, 1976 and 1978. He received numerous awards for his exploits, winning the Edward Jeremiah Trophy as national college division coach of the year three times (1970, 1971, 1978). In 1983, Watson retired as coach and became Bowdoin's athletic director one year later; he retired from that position in 1998. During Watson's tenure as athletic director, Bowdoin athletics grew to 29 varsity sports, 5 club teams, and more than 20 physical education courses. In 1996 Bowdoin dedicated the Sidney J. Watson Fitness Facility in his honor. In 2001 he was awarded the Hobey Baker Legend of Hockey Award by the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted into the Andover Hall of Fame, the Northeastern University Hall of Fame, and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame. Watson is a native of Andover, Massachusetts, and resides in Brunswick, Maine and Naples, Florida with his wife, Henrietta. His son Christopher is a member of the Class of 1986. The Watsons have five children and 11 grandchildren.

The most recognizable athlete in Bowdoin's history, Joan Benoit Samuelson is one of the most decorated runners in the world. A two-time champion at the Boston Marathon (setting world records in 1978 and 1983), in 1984 she was presented with the Jesse Owens Award and in 1985 she earned the Sullivan Award as the top U.S. amateur athlete. She will forever be remembered for her dominating gold-medal performance in the inaugural women's marathon at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Upon her graduation from Bowdoin in 1979, the four-time All-American held numerous Bowdoin and New England indoor and outdoor records, including regional marks in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter races and the U.S. women's record for the 10,000 meters. She still holds the American women's marathon record, a mark that has stood for seventeen years. While at Bowdoin, Joan also played on the field hockey team. A native of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Joan Benoit Samuelson graduated Bowdoin with a double major in history and environmental studies. She has been inducted into the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame, the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of America National Hall of Fame, the Maine Women's Hall of Fame, the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, and the International Women's Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. In 1999, Sports Illustrated placed her at #20 on the Top 100 Women Athletes of the Twentieth Century. She resides in Freeport, Maine, with her husband, Scott (Class of 1980), and their two children. Joan's father, André (Class of 1943), and brothers Peter (Class of 1976) and John (Class of 1981) are also Bowdoin alumni.

For more photos of the exhibit, click here.

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