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Bowen gets call from the hall

Whe Rick Bowen started coaching basketball in 1969, his goal was simply to take his team as far as possible in the Indiana State Basketball Tournament.

Forty years later the former UW-River Falls coach is being inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Bowen will be one of three college coaches who will be enshrined in the WBCA Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the Madison Marriott Hotel in Middleton Oct. 3. The others are Steve Larson of Edgewood College and Dolph Stanley of Beloit College.

"I'm very humbled," Bowen said about the honor. "It's one of those things where you ask yourself the question: 'Am I really deserving or is it just because I've been around a long time?' But I don't think there is any greater honor than when your professional peers think you are deserving of an honor like this, so I'm just accepting it."

Bowen came to UW-RF in 1987 and took over a team that averaged just seven wins a season the previous 23 years. He quickly changed the basketball culture at UW-RF and became the school's all-time winning coach in just his seventh season. In the 97 years UW-RF has played basketball, Bowen's 265 wins represents one out of every five wins in Falcon history.

"When I first came to River Falls I thought I would stay two, maybe three years," he said about his decision to leave as an assistant under Steve Yoder at the University of Wisconsin to take the Falcon job. "I've stayed 23, and it's the best career decision I've ever made."

Bowen, a Vietnam veteran, began coaching at the Indiana high school level after being discharged from the army in 1969. He joined Yoder's staff at Ball State University in 1979 before following Yoder to Wisconsin in 1981.

Bowen said he's most proud of guiding the Falcons to the 2003-04 WIAC Championship, ending a 54-year drought at UW-RF. He was named the WIAC Coach of the Year and the NCAA West Region Coach of the Year that season.

"In all honesty, winning a conference championship made me feel validated," he said. "I don't think I would have the same feeling reflecting back on my career if that didn't happen."

Bowen introduced the concept of a WIAC post-season basketball tournament to the conference, and in 2008 was awarded the National Association of Basketball Coaches Award at the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas.

Bowen spent the last five years of his tenure serving in the dual role of basketball coach and athletic director. Since stepping down as coach following the 2005-06 season he has served as the school's full-time athletic director.

Bowen has been married to his wife, former River Falls High School teacher Sandy Bowen, for 43 years. One son, Mike, owns Bowen's Garage and Goodyear in River Falls with his wife, Pam. The other, Matthew, followed his father's footsteps and is the head coach at Bemidji State University. He and his wife, Ashli, have two daughters -- Addison, age 2, and McKenzi, age 7.

Bowen said the entire family will be on hand when he is inducted into the WBCA Hall of Fame Oct. 3.

For ticket information, contact Joan Petitgoue at (608) 744-2585 or (608) 778-2524, or email: