Help Create ‘Walk of Honor’ for Don Bowen Courts at Eldredge

by | Apr 2, 2024

Above: Donnie Bowen coaching the EG Boys Basketball team in 2019. Photo by Chuck Nadeau

Bricks and pavers can offer personal messages; the extra money will go toward a scoreboard for the soon-to-be refurbished courts

Donnie Bowen IS East Greenwich basketball. He played on a state championship winning team in the early 1970s, coached at the high school from 1979 to 2021 (42 years!) and has been running the summer recreation league at the Eldredge basketball courts on Cliff Street for more than 25 years. 

So it wasn’t surprising when the Town Council decided in 2021 to rename those Eldredge courts the Donnie Bowen Basketball Courts, coinciding with a plan to redo the courts, shifting their orientation and offering a general upgrade. That work is due to start in coming months – the town is about to go out to bid, according to Community Services Director Andy Wade                                                  . 

As an additional element, the town is offering bricks and pavers for purchase, with the proceeds going toward a scoreboard for the courts, which would be a first. The options are: 

All Star – brick 8” x 4” $150 (3 lines of text, 12 characters per line)

MVP – granite 8 x 8” $500 (6 lines of text, 18 characters per line)

Hall of Fame – granite 12” x 12” $1,000 (9 lines of text, 18 characters per line)

Donnie’s the first to admit the honor comes with some trepidation. “I don’t really like the attention,” he said, adding “It’s really quite an honor. I grew up on those courts. I rode my bike there. And it was really a hotspot for basketball in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.” 

Former EG Community Services head Cathy Bradley tapped Bowen to run the summer basketball league in the late 1990s. Before that, Bowen and Gregor Johnson had been running clinics for boys and girls at Cole (then) Junior High. Bowen is still running those camps, though now at EGHS. 

“He’s a hoop junkie and a gym rat,” John Anderson said with a laugh describing his former coach. Anderson and his son and namesake both played for Bowen. Anderson was as a member of the EGHS Class of ‘87 and young John graduated EGHS in 2019, after being on the second team in Bowen’s career to earn a state title. 

“He’s a gem to the town,” Anderson said of Bowen.  

Dan Forbes, EGHS Class of 1993 and current president of the East Greenwich Basketball Association, also played for Bowen. “I think the most effective part of his coaching was the relationship with the players. He’s a genuinely good and well-meaning person. The relationships he’s built with kids reflects that,” said Forbes.

“He always coached with the kids’ best interest in mind. It wasn’t always focused on championships and winning,” Forbes said. Yet, EG won two state championships while he was head coach – in 1991 and 2019. “That’s the magic of his coaching. You have coaches looking to insert themselves into the equation. There’s no self-glorification in his game. That’s rare.”

As usual, Bowen looked to shine the light elsewhere, sending this message after an interview: “Please mention my thanks to EGBA for their support. They were the driving force in getting the courts named after me. Very gracious and honored. They due a tremendous job in teaching the youth of this community in a positive, fun, learning environment.” 

For Bowen, there’s a strong link between his love of basketball and his love of East Greenwich – so much so that it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins. 

“Nick Carcieri was my mentor. He was a legend,” Bowen said of his own high school coach, namesake of Carcieri Field and the  one who established the first Eldredge summer basketball league in the 1950s*.“I loved basketball. I love giving back to my community that’s given me so much,” he said. “I love the town.”

Find out more HERE or email Andy Wade ([email protected]).


*Correction: The original version of this story said the Eldredge summer basketball league started in the 1990s. We apologize for the error.

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Bruce Mastracchio
Bruce Mastracchio
April 3, 2024 6:39 am

Congratulations to Don Bowen on his honor. It is well deserved.

Paul Langhammer
Paul Langhammer
April 3, 2024 12:10 pm

Congrats to Donnie. He’s a great coach and neighbor, and most importantly, a genuinely good person.

Mark
Mark
April 4, 2024 9:32 am

Congrats, Donnie!

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