Adrienne Shibles was perfectly content as the head women’s basketball coach at Brunswick’s Bowdoin College.
The Knox native, former Mount View of Thorndike star and Bates College 1,000-point scorer said she loved her players, the institution and the Brunswick community.
But when she was offered the job at Dartmouth College, it was simply too good of an opportunity to pass up.
After a remarkable 13-year career at Bowdoin in which she compiled a 281-65 record and was named the 2019 Division III coach of the year, Shibles is adjusting to her first season in the Division I ranks. After suffering 10 consecutive losses, Shibles finally earned her first win on Thursday afternoon as Dartmouth beat Texas State 62-39 in San Marcos, Texas.
She will bring her Big Green to her home state Sunday when she takes on Amy Vachon’s University of Maine Black Bears at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor at 1 p.m.
“It was an incredibly difficult decision,” said Shibles of her departure from Bowdoin. Shibles guided the Polar Bears to 11 NCAA Division III tournament appearances, including consecutive national championship game berths in 2018 and 2019.
“But it was a phenomenal opportunity to go to the Ivy League and to an institution and community I like. I’m also coaching Division I basketball.”
Another factor that played a role in her decision was her battle with breast cancer, for which she underwent a mastectomy.
“After going through that kind of journey, I felt it was time for a change and a new challenge. A new opportunity and a fresh start,” Shibles said.
She was impressed with the athletic staff at Dartmouth, several of whom had Maine ties.
Richard Whitmore III, son of former Colby College men’s coach Dick Whitmore, is the executive assistant athletic director. Former Colby College and University of Vermont women’s basketball coach Lori McBride is the assistant AD for external relations.
Shibles also liked Peter Roby, the interim director of athletics and recreation.
“I love the people. That’s what drew me in,” Shibles said. “I was really struck by the level of support I knew I would receive.”
Shibles has added several women with Maine ties to her coaching staff.
Former Mount Desert Island standout and Bowdoin player and assistant Megan Phelps is one of her assistants, and former St. Joseph’s College of Standish captain Sarah Assante is another. Her director of basketball operations is Brunswick native Lydia Caputi, a three-year starter for Shibles at Bowdoin.
She said there are a lot of similarities between Bowdoin and Dartmouth in that they are exceptional academic institutions with solid community support.
“It took longer than I had hoped but I’m really proud of the growth of the team,” Shibles said after their first win. “I have a very young team. We have mostly first-year players who are either freshmen or sophomores who didn’t get to play last year because we didn’t have a season. We have only one player with any significant playing time.”
She was referring to senior guard Katie Douglas.
She said her Dartmouth teams will have a similar identity to her Bowdoin teams.
“We’re looking for great people with high character from great families,” Shibles said. “We want student-athletes who really love the game, are selfless and have the work ethic we want. If you get the right people and they are talented, you will enhance the culture and the outcomes will come.”
Shibles, who is married to Kirk Daulerio and the mother of daughters Madeline and Elsa, is looking forward to Sunday’s game against UMaine.
She grew up going to UMaine games and spent a lot of time on the campus since her relatives, Mark Shibles and Mark Shibles Jr., served as the deans of UMaine’s College of Education.
She has been impressed with the job Vachon has done at UMaine and the powerhouse she has built.
Shibles also applauded the work Vachon has put in to encourage women to get involved in coaching. Vachon enlisted a number of prominent female coaches, including Shibles, to run a virtual workshop for current and former coaches and women interested in coaching.
“It has established an amazing network and has empowered women to get great jobs,” said Shibles, adding that all the women involved now have an exceptional support group to call upon.