The “Bowdoin Navy” turned out in force recently at Smith Boathouse to celebrate the career of James “Gil” Birney, who has retired as head coach of Bowdoin Rowing . On June 2, 2018, alumni and current rowers, coaches past and present, parents, college staff, and administration gathered to honor Birney’s twenty-two year career at the College. He will be succeeded by Doug Welling, the team’s assistant coach for the last seven years.
Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan ’98, president of the Bowdoin Rowing Association Hunt Dowse ’69, Ted Gibbons ’58, and Katie Ross ’14, each spoke to the crowd, praising Birney’s many contributions to his rowers’ successes, both on and off the water.
Ross also announced the results of a campaign to commemorate Birney’s contribution by raising additional funds for the rowing team’s endowment. Total new funds raised through gifts and pledges since July 1, 2017 are $251,473. The campaign closes on June 30 and donors can still contribute by contacting Kacy Hintze in the Division of Alumni and Development.
Dowse, on behalf of the Bowdoin Rowing Association, unveiled the new James G. Birney Award, to be given annually to the Bowdoin coxswain whose commitment, according to the inscription on the cup (which quotes the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson), inspires a crew to become “One equal temper of heroic hearts, . . . strong in will; To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Coach Birney expressed his deep appreciation to the many who gathered, especially his wife, Edie ’83, and spoke to his fondest hope: “Bowdoin Rowing forever!”