Megan Phelps, a graduate of Mount Desert Island High and a former player and assistant coach at Bowdoin College, was named Monday as the new head coach of the Bowdoin women’s basketball team. Courtesy of Bowdoin athletics

After one season away from Bowdoin College, Megan Phelps is coming home – as the new Bowdoin women’s basketball coach.

Phelps, 29, replaces Sacha Santimano, who posted a 16-9 record this winter in her lone season. Phelps was both a player (2011-15) and assistant coach (2017-21) at Bowdoin under Adrienne Shibles. She was Shibles’ lead assistant and recruiting coordinator this season at Dartmouth.

“I think it’s such a special place. Not just Bowdoin but the greater Brunswick community and really the whole Maine community, they love women’s basketball,” Phelps said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to rejoin a program and a college that I was blessed to have an opportunity to not only attend but play for and work for as an assistant coach.”

A former Miss Maine Basketball finalist, Phelps was a 1,000-point scorer at Mount Desert Island High and played four seasons at Bowdoin, including on NCAA tournament teams in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

When Shibles left Bowdoin after a highly successful 12-year run, Phelps did not apply to immediately replace her mentor. Instead, she gained experience, particularly with recruiting, at Dartmouth, which went 3-23 this season.

“I do think this year has been really important for Megan’s growth,” Shibles said. “She had a lot of responsibility as a recruiting coordinator and this was a good experience to see all of us taking over a new program that needed to start from the ground floor.”

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Phelps becomes the eighth coach in Bowdoin women’s basketball history. The school, when asked, did not provide her starting salary.

“Meg is kind, thoughtful, caring and has a passion for supporting the development of women in her programs and she couples that with a fantastic basketball mind,” said Tim Ryan, Bowdoin’s athletic director. “We’re really excited about the positive energy she will bring to the program.”

Junior guard Sela Kay led Bowdoin in scoring this season, averaging 15.9 points. She also played for Shibles and Phelps in 2018-19 and 2019-20, averaging 12.2 points her second season.

“I think she’s definitely going to be the person for the job,” Kay said. “She knows Bowdoin basketball, played it, coached it. She has great alumni connections which will be helpful and her passion for this program is unmatched.

“She has great knowledge of the game and I also think, from my experience, she does a really great job of creating coach-t0-player relationships and works to build that trust.”

Phelps said she intends to build relationships that go beyond basketball.

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“A core building block of any team is having trust and building open and honest and authentic relationships,” she said.

Phelps gained a deeper understanding of the importance of feeling supported during her senior season at Bowdoin. She suffered a season-ending injury and her father Scott Phelps died unexpectedly from complications after being hospitalized.

While injured, Megan Phelps took on an unofficial coaching role.

“As a senior she was helping coach on the bench and thinking tactically in a way very few players think,” Shibles said.

Phelps said, “A situation like that really teaches you there are going to be positives no matter what you go through and I try to live my life that way. But the relationship I had with Adrienne, my teammates and the Bowdoin community in general were so important to supporting me. And I feel that’s a big part of what Bowdoin is and a huge reason why I’m so happy to be back.”

Phelps takes over a program that has been an elite Division III basketball power under coaches Stefanie Pempers (235-48, nine NCAA trips in 10 seasons) and Shibles (281-68, 11 NCAA trips in 12 seasons) but is coming off a subpar 16-9 season.

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In mid-April, nearly two months after the season ended, the school announced Santimano would not return for a second season because of family health issues.

Bowdoin and the rest of the NESCAC schools did not compete in 2020-21. Shibles became Dartmouth’s coach in May 2021.

Santimano, who was hired last June, inherited a team without seniors that had not played together. Bowdoin lost its final five games with second-leading scorer Sydney Jones out with a wrist injury. In that stretch, Husson snapped a 20-game losing streak to Bowdoin and Colby bounced the Polar Bears from the first round of the NESCAC tournament, breaking its 19-game losing streak to Bowdoin.

“Coming back from COVID, not having played together as a unit, getting to know each other and a coaching change, there was a lot of growth on all levels,” said Kay, who missed the final game with a concussion. “We didn’t have the year we had hoped for and, historically, is the expectation at Bowdoin but we’re all excited to come back next year and set high standards. … There’s a lot of hope for the future and I’m excited to get to work with Coach Meg and the rest of the team.”


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