Sports Person of the Week
Bowden’s a Relentless Worker for Three Saybrook Squads
Wendy Bowden provides an important voice as a senior captain and defensive presence for the Old Saybrook girls’ basketball squad. In addition to her work on the basketball court, Wendy earned All-State Second Team and All-Shoreline Conference First Team accolades as the goalie for the Rams’ field hockey squad in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Wendy Bowden )
Wendy Bowden keeps busy as a three-season athlete at Old Saybrook High School. Wendy is a senior captain post player who patrols the paint for the Rams’ girls’ basketball team and also served as a captain with Old Saybrook’s field hockey squad. In the spring, Wendy will play first base for the softball team to cap off her career at Old Saybrook.
As a three-sport athlete, Wendy’s schedule is jam-packed all year. Some people might get overwhelmed by that prospect, but Wendy finds that keeping a full plate helps her hone in.
“I actually think having sports in my life has helped me with my time management. I know that when I get home, I have to do homework, eat dinner, and go to bed,” says Wendy. “It’s helped me with my confidence, my communication abilities, and things like that. It’s definitely hard, because I’m also an honor student, but I feel like I’ve found a good balance between it all.”
After leading the field hockey team last fall, Wendy is donning the captain’s hat on the basketball court this winter. It’s a trill for Wendy to be a captain, because she enjoys helping her teammates improve like others have helped her.
“I was really excited when the coaches named me captain. It was such an honor. I never thought I would be a captain, but it’s been one of my biggest dreams since I was a freshman,” Wendy says. “I think it’s a really good way to teach the younger players. A lot of girls come to me with not just basketball related problems, but school stuff, too. It is a really good to be an outlet for them.”
Wendy has played the post for a long time and had a height advantage when she first took up basketball at the behest of her mother, Lisa Gradzewicz. Since then, Wendy has fallen in love with the way a basketball team can become connected when everything is going right.
“My mom kept bugging me about playing basketball, because I was so tall. I started playing in the 4th grade, and I ended up in the post. I stuck with it after I wasn’t the tallest, because it was what I comfortable with,” Wendy says. “What I like most about basketball is how five players have to play together and work it around the court. I like how you have to count on your teammates.”
Wendy’s always been able to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball and has a knack for getting to the right spot on the floor to stop opposing offenses. She’s also making some strides when it comes to scoring points for the Rams this season.
“I’m definitely a defensive player. I’ve picked up quite a few charges this year. That’s a highlight for me, because those are difficult. I want to get that charge, so I try to get to that spot as fast as I can and plant my feet,” says Wendy. “This year, I’ve really worked on my offense. I’m taking a lot more ranged shots this year. I’ve also been driving to the basket a lot more. I’ve really worked on my confidence as a whole player this year.”
Wendy also stopped opposing offenses as the goalie for Old Saybrook’s field hockey team. She earned All-State Second Team and All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors for her play in the cage as a senior. Wendy feels proud of those accomplishments, but she was just as excited that the Rams qualified for both the Shoreline Conference and Class S State tournaments.
“We made it really far this year. We went to states, and we got into an overtime shootout against Stonington. I was really proud of our team for that,” Wendy says. “Personally, making Second Team All-State was a big accomplishment and something I had hoped for since my freshman year.”
Old Saybrook girls’ basketball Head Coach Steve Woods knows that he will miss working Wendy next season—and not just because she’s a valuable player.
“Wendy is an unbelievably great kid. She’s selfless. She’s a solid student and a really good teammate. She’s a good leader, and she has all the intangibles. She’s fearless and is always ready to take a charge,” says Woods. “Wendy is blue-collar kid who goes out and works. I think she inspires her teammates to play tough and never back down. She’s tough as nails, but not so tough that it’s just about her. She really looks out for her teammates, as well. She’ll never give you less than everything she has.”
Wendy believes that she owes those qualities to her mother. She feels grateful to her mom for helping her become a better person.
“I’m a family-oriented kind of girl. My mom has been my mentor through everything,” Wendy says. “I really look up to her, and she’s really pushed me to be the woman I am today. She’s so strong, and I’ve always wanted to be as strong as her.”
When examining her career as a Rams’ athlete, Wendy believes that she will remember the relationships that she’s built with her teammates the most.
“When everyone said high school is going to fly by, I never believed them, but it did. With all the sports teams I played for, I really connected with everyone,” Wendy says. “I’m so happy with all the bonds I’ve made. As a freshman, I connected with all the seniors, and now I’ve done the same thing as a senior with the freshmen on the basketball team. I think the best thing about high school has been making those connections with everyone.”