Stefanie Pemper, the former Bowdoin College coach, has returned to Maine this weekend as coach of the Navy women’s basketball team.

Navy (3-1) will play the University of Maine (1-2) at 6 p.m. today in the first round of the Dead River Company Classic.

Pemper said she is a better coach than she was when she left Maine three years ago.

“Some people wouldn’t touch this job with a 10-foot pole. They ask if it’s hard to recruit. I like it,” said Pemper.

“Professionally it’s been more difficult, but I’m definitely a better coach now than I was three years ago.”

Pemper guided Bowdoin to its first appearance in the NCAA Division III championship game in 2004. The Polar Bears were 235-48 overall from 1998-2008 under Pemper.

Her teams were incredibly dominant at home, stringing together a 76-game winning streak in Brunswick from 2001-07.

“Bowdoin was such a nice nurturing community, so I am definitely really, really grateful for the breadth of opportunity they gave me,” said Pemper.

Life at the Naval Academy is different. Pemper and her four full-time assistants are challenged to scout and outwit opponents in the Patriot League.

“At Bowdoin we’d call and ask for film and not everyone did that,” said Pemper. “Here we’ll watch seven to 10 films on teams.

“At Bowdoin we’d put in an offense quick hitter. Not only would it work for a game or month, it’d work for a year.

“Here you put in a play, it works for like two games. Then everyone knows it, the name of it, the call.”

Pemper said the challenge of coaching Division I basketball goes beyond game management and recruiting.

“One of the biggest reasons I wanted this job was to be a different kind of leader,” said Pemper. “I have four assistant coaches, our own sports information director, our own strength trainer.

“It’s a whole different level of management, which has been a struggle. It doesn’t come naturally to me after you run your own team one way for 10 years. It’s a challenge I wanted.”

Pemper last year led Navy to its best season in 10 years. The Mids were 17-14 overall, 8-6 in the conference.

She said she believes in the process and has faith a championship season will arrive, much like her coaching counterpart at Maine, Cindy Blodgett.

“I definitely respect what Cindy is doing there. I think she’s definitely headed in the right direction,” said Pemper. “I can really relate to what she’s experienced.

“Trying to get a program to do something special takes time. We’ve experienced that a little bit here.

“We’ve won more than people may have expected, but our own internal expectations — we have a long way to go.”

Pemper enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner with her team at a Portland-area restaurant before traveling to Orono.

On Sunday, the team will visit the home of her assistant, Julie Veilleux, in Augusta. Veilleux played for Maine, graduating in 2004.

 

NOT TO BE outdone by the NCAA Division III championship field hockey team, the Bowdoin men’s soccer team will play in the Div. III national semifinals on Dec. 3.

The Polar Bears beat Middlebury 2-1 last Sunday with a last-second goal in overtime by freshman Zach Danssaert to reach the Final Four.

It was the Polar Bears’ school-record 15th win of the season.

Bowdoin will play Lynchburg for a berth in the national final.

 

THREE MEMBERS of the Bowdoin field hockey team were named All-Americans by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. Senior co-captain and midfielder Ingrid Oelschlager was named to the first team, Katie Herter earned second-team honors and Ella Curren was named to the third team.

Oelschlager had nine goals and nine assists this season, giving her 34 goals and 21 assists in her career.

Herter, a junior forward, led Bowdoin with 20 goals, and Curren, also a junior, anchored a defense that led the nation in goals-against average. She also contributed four goals and five assists.

 

THE UNIVERSITY of Maine men’s basketball team was picked by Sports Illustrated last week to win the America East title and earn the program’s first NCAA tournament berth.

In September, the Black Bears also were picked by Sporting News to win the conference title.

 

UNIVERSITY OF New England guard Kelley Paradis of Newport was named The Commonwealth Coast Conference women’s basketball player of the week after helping the Nor’easters to their first 4-0 start since 1989. Paradis averaged 19.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a game.

 

ST. JOSEPH’S freshman forward Abby Young of North Yarmouth (Greely High) was named rookie of the week by the Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. She averaged 8.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals in three games.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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