Firecrackers Lose a Legend

January 27, 2021
Firecracker Nation mourns the loss of of Bruce Bowers, an unusually enthusiastic and committed member of the community for several years. Coach Bowers came to a practice in 2015 after doing individual drill sessions with Emily Esposito. He wanted to see how she incorporated the skills they were working on in practice. Bowers was, soon after, a regular at the National team practices and began traveling to games in New England. Firecracker coaches put him to work and before long, he was invited to sit on any Firecracker bench he chose to. A calming and positive presence to dozens of players, he became “The Grandfather” of the program. Bowers rarely missed a tournament, taking planes, trains, and automobiles to tournaments in Rhode Island, Washington, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Coach could be seen napping in his car between games and usually had both a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes for the big games. Bowers offered to work individually with any girl in the program for free and he would drive to them. His only requirement was they work hard. He was excellent at teaching skill development, and had a keen eye for fixing shots. He never over-coached. Instead, he would give his pupil one or two simple things to work on for improvement and he always helped their confidence. The father of three also enjoyed going to as many high school games as possible, usually sitting in the front row opposite the benches. Bowers credits the Firecrackers with re-connecting him to God and he became a regular guest at East Point Church on Sunday’s, which he described as the best hour of the week for him. In 2019 his balance became problematic, so he began to walk with ski poles. While at a D1 exposure tournament in New Jersey, he fell while walking to a game. The National A team was 3-0 playing in the top division and game 4 would be a major test against the loaded Miami Suns. The trainer on duty recommended Coach Bowers go to the ER immediately since he had some shoulder and chest pain. Bowers politely replied that he would go to the ER….but not until after the game. “I’m not missing this one – end of story. We’ll go after the game.” Players Whitmore, Smith, Cote, Colby, Clement, Kabantu, Motema, and Towle were inspired by the courage and commitment of their coach and pulled out an impressive win against the heavily favored Miami team. It was probably the best game they played all yea Firecracker founder Brian Clement said, “Bruce Bowers was a gift and blessing to the Firecracker girls and he made our program better. Nobody was more excited about the games and nobody was more proud of the way we competed. He was such a wise and calming presence on the bench. There will be a void at the end of the bench but we are extremely grateful for his friendship.” Don Briggs notes how beloved he was by the girls and commented, “He taught us all about enthusiasm, commitment, and enjoying the moment. He represented program very well and he just adored our players.” Firecracker Coach Kevin Whitmore spent a lot of time alongside Coach Bowers and loved his enthusiasm and commitment to the players while Coach Brian Blethen wished “Fair winds and following seas to a good man.” Coach Bowers will be missed but never forgotten. God bless you Bruce.