Southwest Harbor native Megan Phelps is returning to her alma mater, Bowdoin College.
But the next time she steps on campus, it will be as the head women’s basketball coach.
It will be the first head coaching job for the 29-year-old, who graduated from Bowdoin in 2015 and spent three seasons as an assistant under Adrienne Shibles at the school. The Polar Bears went 87-7 with consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division III championship game in 2018-19 and 2019-20 during that time.
She spent this past season as the top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Dartmouth College under Shibles.
Phelps is replacing Sacha Santimano, who left Bowdoin after one season due to family health issues.
“[Bowdoin] is a great place to start my head coaching career. The last couple of days have been so amazing with the outpouring of love and support I’ve received,” Phelps said.
“Maine is a special place with great people who love basketball. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Shibles, who just completed her first season as the head coach at Dartmouth, was elated about the news.
“I am thrilled that Bowdoin has selected Megan to be their next head coach,” said Shibles, a Knox native who learned in February that she will be inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame and the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame.
“As an alum and former coach, she has an intimate knowledge of the place, the people and the program that will be indispensable,” Shibles said. “She is a brilliant tactician, compassionate mentor and a phenomenal colleague. I can think of nobody better to lead the Polar Bears into the future than Megan Phelps.”
Phelps began her coaching career as an assistant at Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts.
The Pride went 46-11 in her two seasons as an assistant under head coach Angela Santa Fe and earned NCAA Division III Tournament bids each year.
Regis went undefeated in New England Collegiate Conference play.
She then joined Shibles’ staff at Bowdoin and followed her to Dartmouth.
“I am so lucky to have worked for amazing head coaches who have had a lot of success,” Phelps said. “But, at a certain point, you have to go for it. You have to take the training wheels off.”
Her coaching philosophy begins with playing solid team defense.
“I have always been an offensive-minded player. But, in coaching, I have quickly learned that the way to win championships is by playing really solid defense,” she said. “NESCAC is the best Division III league in the country and what sets it apart is defense. You have to play good defense to be successful in this league.”
Bowdoin went an uncharacteristic 16-9 this past season and 5-5 in NESCAC. The Polar Bears were ousted in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament by archrival Colby College 67-58.
The Polar Bears didn’t have any seniors. They had eight juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen.
Phelps said they have a talented recruiting class coming in.
Phelps was a two-time captain at Bowdoin and the Polar Bears made three NCAA Tournament appearances in her four years. She scored 696 points and corralled 512 rebounds.
She was a 1,000-point scorer at Mount Desert Island High School and a two-time Big East Player of the Year. She was a Miss Maine Basketball finalist her senior year.
She became the youngest person inducted into the MDI High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019.
Phelps graduated from Bowdoin with a degree in government and legal studies. While coaching at Regis, she completed her master’s degree in communications.