Mr. Bowlin joins 500 club


The Minnesota State High School League has a new member in its basketball coaches’ 500 win club – Cotter’s own Pat Bowlin.

Mr. Bowlin earned his 500th, to go along with his 600+ softball wins, with a comfortable 53-31 win over Fillmore Central at the John Nett gymnasium on January 10 .

Mr. Bowlin is in his 22nd year of coaching at Cotter, after eight years at St. Bernards in St. Paul. His record is 500-290 over those 30 years.

“The first game I coached was at St Bernard’s and we beat St. Croix Lutheran 54-42. I didn’t know we would only win three games that first year.”

There was a great crowd for the milestone game, which included many longtime Rambler fans, many former players and parents, and, most notably, almost the whole Bowlin family.

Right behind the Cotter bench were Mr. Bowlin’s wife, Laurie, daughters Danielle, Lauren, Kathleen, and son, Patrick. Gabrielle, a 9th grader and Cotter’s starting point guard, was on the court. The only missing family member was Devin, who is in her first year as the girls varsity coach at Maple River and had a game the same night, but had been in Winona the night before, when Cotter fell to Southland.

Mr. Bowlin has coached all five of his daughters in basketball and softball, he also coached his son, Patrick, in football. It is no exaggeration to say this is a family that grew up in a gym or on a ball field.

“I think anyone with a parent for a coach would say that it has its ups and downs, but what I love about my dad is that he always made an effort to be my coach and my dad at the same time. He always cared more about the kind of person than the kind of player I was, and that was really important to me,” said Kathleen.

Lauren echoed this sentiment, “Playing for my dad was an opportunity that I am so grateful to have had. Being able to experience the highs and lows of sports with my Dad was something really special for me. He pushed me to become a better player, but most importantly he taught me to become a better person every day.”

“I grew up in the gym, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I always wanted to be just like my dad and that’s a big reason why I’m in the coaching profession. I remember going to practices and games all the time. I’ve always been my dad’s biggest fan.” added Patrick, now a volleyball coach at UW-Green Bay.

“My dad is the best coach I know and it was a privilege to play for him for so many years,” said Danielle.

When asked what qualities make their dad such a successful coach there was much agreement within the group.

“One of my dad’s best characteristics is he has a big heart. He cares so much about his teams and his players. He works hard to prepare and his teams work hard on the court. Very rarely will you see a Cotter team not put up a good fight,” Patrick noted.

“The passion my dad has for coaching is incredible. He cares about his players on and off the court, and he never stops searching for ways to become a better coach. More often than not you can hear him coaching in his sleep. Coaching isn’t just a job for my Dad, it’s so much more than that, and that is why he is so successful., “ said Lauren. “The moments that stand out to me the most about playing for my Dad are the talks he would give in the locker room after a tough loss. These moments truly showed how much my Dad cared about his players. With my Dad, there is always a lesson to be learned in every situation. My dad is not only a great coach, but he is a great teacher and the things he was able to teach us about ourselves in those situations were so much more important than the game.”

“My dad is hands down one of the hardest working people I know, and I think that combined with his passion for basketball is what makes him such a successful coach. He puts in countless hours of work in order to always put a competitive team on the floor. His success really comes down to his dedication and how much he loves what he does,” said Kathleen.

Danielle had this to add. “He knows the game inside and out and can take mediocre talent and create a competitive team. Although these are important qualities in order to have a winning program the most important quality my dad possesses as a coach is his expectation of his players to be good people. Every coach plays to win but what sets my dad apart from other coaches is that he instills the importance of faith and always doing the right thing into his players above all else.”

These virtues were also noted by seniors Hannah Spiten and Keelyn Palubicki.
“I was grateful that I was part of the team that won both Mr Bowlin’s 600th softball game and 500th basketball game”, said Spiten
“When he screams at you you go out and play harder because you know he believes in you and you can do it. He never settles and always pushes you to do your best and that’s why he ‘s successful”

“I was happy to be a part of it. After the game he told us all that he appreciates our effort and was glad we could share in the moment,” said Palubicki.

Mr. Bowlin’s 500th win provided him to celebrate with his family. When he says his family he means his Cotter and WACS family as well as his wife and children. “Family is what sports is about and that it brings us together. It brings people and teammates together to do something they enjoy.”

“The milestone is nice because it is a chance to reflect on everything that has happened during my years of coaching and life in general. “

There were a lot of special moments along the way, including two trips to the State tournament. In 2006, Cotter was playing Rochester Lourdes, facing a 47 game losing streak against them. The game was played at Cotter and when the buzzer sounded with a Cotter victory the fans stormed the court. Another highlight was in the 2004 sub section finals against Lewiston-Altura who was 25-0 on their season. Cotter was down by eight points with one minute left. They rallied scoring nine points in that last minute. Jess Weisbrod stole the ball with five seconds left and scored to win the game. There was the night Paige Gernes hit the winning shot at Spring Grove at the buzzer, perhaps the first true buzzer beater of Mr. Bowlin’s career.

While these memorable victories are great, Mr. Bowlin takes satisfaction in the process, too.

“I really enjoys seeing the players grow, not only as players, but as people. I like seeing the relationships between teammates grow. The relationships that form are really great to see.”

Also, when his players from past seasons come back, he really likes reconnecting with them. He likes seeing how much they have grown after going to college, getting jobs, and starting families.

All of the Cotter family extends a sincere congratulations to Mr. Bowlin on this outstanding achievement, we know there’s more to come.