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Longtime Bowdoin Coach MaryBeth Mathews to Retire

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Longtime Bowdoin Coach MaryBeth Mathews to Retire

MaryBeth Mathews being interviews during the 2022 NIRA D3 final. Photo Justin LaFleur.

Bowdoin College women's rugby Head Coach MaryBeth Mathews has announced that she will retire at the conclusion of this academic year. Mathews has enjoyed a 29-year tenure at the helm of the program, guiding the women's rugby team at Bowdoin from club to varsity status during her distinguished career.

Mathews, along with her husband Bob, were instrumental in the establishment of a formal club women's rugby program at Bowdoin in 1994 and guided the squad to a pair of New England championships and a 37-17-2 mark in its pre-varsity status. In 2003 she played a critical role in the establishment of Bowdoin as the first varsity women's rugby program in the nation and lifted the team to its greatest heights.

As a varsity program, Mathews led the Polar Bears to a 146-48-1 record, winning over 75% of its matches, and accumulating numerous postseason honors. The team won the 2007 New England Rugby Football Union championship, four consecutive New England Small College Rugby Conference championships from 2012-15 and, most recently, won the inaugural National Intercollegiate Rugby Association varsity women's rugby championship in 2019, a title the program successfully defended in 2021 and 2022.

"What an honor and a privilege it has been to turn my love of the game of rugby into a career and serve as the women's rugby coach at Bowdoin College for nearly 30 years," said Mathews. "I have former Athletics Director Jeff Ward to thank for his vision to elevate rugby to varsity status. I have hundreds of alumni and the current team to thank for helping create and sustain a team culture that emphasizes respect, hard work, a growth mindset, and having fun. I have deeply enjoyed having Bob assist me in coaching these young women, as we've seen over and over how playing rugby empowers them and opens doors previously unseen."

"Bowdoin College and the sport of rugby are very fortunate to be the benefactors of the time, energy, and love for the game MaryBeth had displayed over the last 29 years," said Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan. "MaryBeth's legacy as a pioneering champion for the game of women's rugby and women's athletics more broadly will endure long after her time at Bowdoin and we are grateful she shared her passions with our campus community."

In addition to growing the game at Bowdoin, MaryBeth has been a national figure in the development of the sport. As a result, she was named one of eight recipients of the U.S. Women's Rugby Foundation's inaugural Kathy Flores Lifetime Achievement Award this past winter. An active member of the campus community while at Bowdoin, Mathews also spent five years as a member of the Dean's Office staff, three years as an assistant basketball coach, and two years in the Career Planning Center.

Planning is underway for a celebration of MaryBeth and Bob's contributions to the College and the women's rugby program in late October. A national search will begin shortly for the next head coach of the program.