BRUNSWICK — She arrived on campus over three years ago and was like a lot of college freshmen: quiet, following others, searching for her path.

Now Katie Bergeron is ready to lead.

She has grown, matured and discovered her passions, while working to promote human rights and help the less fortunate.

And, of course, there is still basketball in Bergeron’s life.

Bergeron is thriving at Bowdoin College in her twin life of student and athlete, working on her dual major of government/legal studies and sociology while serving as captain of the Polar Bears’ nationally ranked women’s basketball team,

“Bowdoin has allowed me to grow in confidence and perspective,” Bergeron said. “It has helped me reassure myself and reach for goals I never thought were possible.”

Her sociology courses have pushed Bergeron into community-based action. Last summer she worked an unpaid internship for the Frannie Peabody Center in Portland, which provides help for those with AIDS.

After graduation, Bergeron said she could see herself working for a nonprofit group somewhere from Washington, D.C., to New England.

Or, there’s basketball.

“I’m definitely interested in the possibility of playing overseas,” Bergeron said. “That’s something Coach (Adrienne Shibles) is helping me with.”

Shibles would gladly serve as a reference on Bergeron’s resume. Bergeron came to Bowdoin as a shooting guard but has had to play a few roles, including point guard last year as the Polar Bears broke in a freshman at the position.

“It was really challenging for her to come in and run the point,” Shibles said. “She’s really matured from that experience.

“She’s showing a lot of confidence. She’s emerging as our vocal leader.”

Bergeron stepped on the Bowdoin campus quietly in 2007.

A Bradley native, she played for Old Town High, earning Maine Sunday Telegram all-state honorable mention in 2006, and then spent a year at The Taft School, a prep school in Watertown, Conn.

Bergeron jumped into college basketball — shooting. Her six 3-pointers in one game tied a school record.

When injuries depleted the team her sophomore season, Bergeron stepped up and averaged a team-high 10.4 points while hitting 45 3-pointers.

Last season Bergeron was needed in other areas. She still averaged 9.9 points while recording 96 assists and 54 steals.

Bergeron also drove to the basket more, although her 3-point shooting was down (30 of 123).

“She needs to be more consistent there,” Shibles said. Otherwise, the coach has few complaints.

“She has great ability to get to the rim and she has the mind of a playmaker, although we prefer to have her at the two (shooting guard position) because she is such a threat.”

Bergeron also was voted a co-captain, along with junior Amy Hackett of Bangor.

“I have a responsibility to uphold that honor,” Bergeron said.

The responsibilities of a Bowdoin women’s basketball player becomes evident once you enter Morrell Gymnasium.

The banners are hanging everywhere, reminders of the Polar Bears success: 11 NCAA tournament appearances, including the last 10 seasons, and an appearance in the 2004 championship game.

Bergeron does not want to compare this team with other Bowdoin teams.

“Something we always focus on each year is how important this team is and how different this team is from the past,” Bergeron said.

Bowdoin is ranked in both national preseason Division III polls: 18th in the d3hoops.com poll and 23rd by USA Today.

Besides Bergeron, the Polar Bears have some other top guards, including sophomore point guard Kaitlin Donahoe and junior Jill Henrikson of Bath.

With Henrikson back from a knee injury, Bowdoin will have two prime outside shooters. Colleen Sweeney is the top returning post player.

Bowdoin begins its season in a tournament this weekend in Salem, Mass.

The Polar Bears play at the University of New England next Tuesday, and their first home game is Nov. 30 against the University of Southern Maine.

It’s a good early test for Bowdoin and Bergeron, the Polar Bears’ veteran leader on and off the court.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]