Ray S. Bicknell, coach emeritus of men’s basketball and women’s soccer, died on November 11, 2013, in Falmouth, Maine.
He joined Bowdoin in 1962 after a distinguished fifteen-year high school career. He recorded more than 200 career wins in his twenty-three years as head coach of men’s basketball at the College. For seven years he was head coach of women’s soccer, which for a time was the “winningest” team at Bowdoin, and coached tennis and lacrosse for shorter periods. He also was director of scheduling for the athletic department. He retired in 1985. When he came to Bowdoin in 1962, he took over a program that had not produced a winning season in eighteen years. It took several years for him to turn that record around but, during his first season, he led the Polar Bear basketball team to the first state series title in Bowdoin’s history. Two of his finest seasons came in 1967-68 and 1968-69, when his teams posted records of 15-6 and 16-5, which at that point were the best records in the College’s history. In 1968 he was named New England small college coach of the year, and his team won the Eastern College Athletic Conference trophy as the outstanding small college team in the east. In 1969 he was selected to coach the College Division All-Stars against Bob Cousy’s University Division All-Stars in the annual Basketball Hall of Fame Game. But perhaps his sweetest victory was his final career win in February 1985 when the Polar Bears upset the nationally ranked Colby Mules. He was named Maine Coach of the Year four times and won the Alvin (Doggie) Julian Award in 1977 for his “outstanding contributions to college basketball in New England.” Some of his greatest coaching success came while leading the women’s soccer teams, when they posted a 67-20-3 record and won four consecutive Northeast Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships, from 1981 to 1984. For a time after his retirement, he continued to help coach the soccer team as a volunteer. In 1985 he was elected to honorary membership in the Bowdoin College Alumni Association, and in 2010, his name was added to the Bowdoin College Athletic Hall of Honor. He was born on March 1, 1920, in Boston, but spent most of his early years in Leominster, Mass. He graduated from New Hampton (N.H.) Prep School and enrolled as an undergraduate at Springfield College, where he was captain of the basketball team and played football and lacrosse. From 1942 to 1946, Bicknell served in the United States Army, and spent twenty-eight months in active duty in the South Pacific. Following his discharge as first lieutenant, he worked as director of athletics at Portland Junior College from 1947 to 1950 and again from 1951 to 1953. He coached basketball and baseball there and taught courses in physical education, psychology, and sociology. From 1953 to 1955, and during 1957, he coached basketball and football and taught physical education, history, and mathematics at Deering High School. In 1955 and 1956, he was employed by the Basketball Federation of the Egyptian Olympic Committee to coach the national team in preparation for competition in the 1956 Olympics; he also ran clinics and coached at schools throughout Egypt. From 1957 to 1962, he coached soccer, basketball, and track at Cape Elizabeth High School and taught physical education. He served as president of the New England Basketball Coaches Association and the Maine Basketball Coaches and Writers Association. For many years he served as a member of the United Press International College Division Coaches Rating Board. His late wife, Jane, also known as “Mrs. Coach,” was an essential part of his teams. She died in 1995 at the age of seventy.