A Tale of Two Coaches


Monday, December 5, 2016
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UNH football coach Bill Bowes and UNH women's ice hockey coach Bill Bowes

When UNH’s (relatively new) women’s ice hockey assistant coach met the football team’s Hall of Fame-winning former coach at the latter sport’s home opener Sept. 10, it’s easy to imagine the conversation went something like this:

Hello, I’m Bill Bowes.

Nice to meet you. I’m Bill Bowes, too.

UNH women's ice hockey coach Bill Bowes

Confused? Though they aren’t related (at least as far as they know) the two men share a name — and a profession. When hockey’s Bowes came on board in 2014, he was aware that he shared a moniker with a former athletics staffer but didn’t realize what a UNH legend his predecessor was. Football’s Bowes, who retired in 1998, remains the winningest coach in Yankee Conference/Atlantic 10 college football, and earlier this year became the first Wildcat to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. For the hockey coach, his first association with the man with whom he shared a name was a little less awe-inspiring. “When I first started here, all my paycheck data went to him, so we had to fix that right away,” he says.

UNH football coach Bill Bowes

It took more than two years for the two Boweses to meet, but when hockey coach Bowes heard that football coach Bowes was going to be honored during halftime at the inaugural game at Wildcat Stadium in September, he rearranged his recruiting schedule to be on campus in time to introduce himself. He found his namesake in the stands during the second half.

“I said, ‘Pardon me, I’m sorry to get in your way while you’re watching the game, but I wanted to introduce myself to you,’” the hockey coach recalls. “I said, ‘My name’s Bill Bowes,’ and he just looked at me and smiled.”

They told me about you,” football’s Bowes replied.

The pair only spoke for a moment before parting ways to continue watching the Wildcats en route to a 39-28 victory over Holy Cross, but what the moment might have lacked in drama it made up for in symmetry: It wasn’t the first time another Bill Bowes had introduced himself to the football coach. The hockey coach’s father, also named Bill Bowes, had once worked as an official at a UMass football game at which the Minutemen hosted the UNH Wildcats. The two men had been introduced, then gone their separate ways.

— Christina Geromini ’17

 

Originally published in UNH Magazine Winter 2017 Issue

 

This article is part of the series:

UNH Magazine Winter 2017
The impact issue: Read about the legal eagles and community champions who are building bridges in and beyond the Granite State.