Campus News

Beloved, Legendary Hockey Coach Sid Watson Dies at 71

Story posted April 26, 2004

The Bowdoin College community and the world of sports are mourning the death of Sid Watson, legendary hockey coach and Ashmead White Director of Athletics Emeritus. Watson died Sunday, April 25, 2004, of a heart attack. He was 71.

"There has not been a more beloved a person in the Bowdoin College community than Sid Watson," said Bowdoin President Barry Mills. "Sid was a man of great personal strength and character. As he led generations of talented Bowdoin students on the ice and the playing fields, Sid taught them through his example to be people of integrity and principle. We will miss him tremendously. Our thoughts are with Sid's wife, Henrietta, and the Watson family."

A native of Andover, Massachusetts, Watson was born on May 4, 1932. A graduate of Punchard High School in Andover, he went on to Northeastern University where, as an undergraduate, he 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). He lettered twice in hockey at Northeastern, and is one of only two athletes to have lettered in both hockey and basketball at the school. He was a member of the Northeastern hockey squad that played in the first-ever Beanpot Tournament.

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. After one season as a co-coach with Nels Corey, Watson took over the position full-time in 1959.

An immortal in the world of Collegiate hockey, Watson guided the Bowdoin hockey program to extraordinary heights during his career behind the bench. 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 became Bowdoin's athletic director and retired as coach one year later. He retired from the A.D. 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 Watson 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. In 2002, he was an inaugural inductee of Bowdoin College's Athletic Hall of Honor.

Watson was active in the interests of collegiate hockey from an administrative level as well, serving as chairman of the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules and Tournament Committee for six years. He also held the positions of president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and as a member of the board of governors of the American Hockey Coaches Association.

He resided with his wife, Henrietta, in Brunswick and Naples, Florida. The Watsons have five children and 11 grandchildren, and son Christopher is a member of the Class of 1988.

Click here for memorial service information.

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