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Where to start? Dr. Joe Bowman came to USC Upstate in 1969 and in the ensuing 39 years, he has coached six sports, served six years as the director of athletics and now, he is in his fifth season in his third go-round with the USC Upstate volleyball team. Since taking on the role of head volleyball coach in 1978, Upstate volleyball has known nothing but success, with Bowman himself being a part of 421 Spartan victories and two conference tournament championships.
A true renaissance man in the world of athletics, Dr. Joe Bowman has coached no fewer than eight sports at the collegiate level to go along with his three degrees in health or physical education. To say that Bowman and USC Upstate athletics are synonymous is an understatement. Bowman could widely be considered the architect of the athletic department, serving in a number of different roles both as a coach and an administrator. He was inducted into the athletic department's Hall of Fame in 1999, the inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees.
Bowman came to USC Upstate in 1969 and immediately the athletic program reached new heights. He served as the athletic director from 1969-75, overseeing the move from a two-year program to full NAIA status. Serving as the men's basketball coach for five seasons from 1969-74, he led the Rifles to a 55-54 record, stepping down as the head coach after winning the school's first conference title in 1973-74. Bowman led the Rifles to a 19-7 record to claim the Palmetto Athletic Conference title in their last year at the junior college level.
As the bowling coach from 1972-76, Bowman led the Rifles to a National Little Colleges Athletic Association title in 1973 and 1974. As the men's golf coach from 1970-80, Bowman led the golfers to a NLCAA Championship in 1974 and second-place finishes at the 1972 and 1975 NLCAA Championships. He also helped co-coach the first Upstate men's tennis program in 1970.
In 1978, he took over a fledgling volleyball program and guided it for next 10 seasons, helping to cement the program's status at the forefront of the school's athletic program. In 1978, he led the school to its first 20-win season. In 1979, the first 25-win season. In 1980, the first 30-win campaign. By the time he won his first NAIA District Six Coach of the Year Award in 1983, the Spartans were competing for the District Six title every year. He won the District Six Coach of the Year award again in 1985 and in 1984, he led the Lady Rifles to their third straight appearance in the district finals. He stepped down after the 1987 season in which he led the Rifles to their first of three straight NAIA District Six Championships and three straight trips to the NAIA National Tournament.
During his decade-long tenure at the helm of the Lady Rifles, Bowman led the squads to a 343-153 (.692) record, coaching 12 All-NAIA District Six Conference selections and the 1987 District Six Player of the Year and NAIA All-American Carla Gambrell.
After taking a year off from coaching, Bowman was an assistant coach with the 1989 men's golf team. He stepped back again after that season, focusing on his full load as a physical education professor at the University, but was pressed back into service as the interim head volleyball coach in 1995. All he did during that season was lead the Rifles to their third straight Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship, helping the team finish with a 17-14 overall record. He coached three All-Peach Belt selections and the Peach Belt Conference Tournament MVP during that season. At the end of the year, he stepped down as head coach, turning the job over to his student assistant, Jennifer Calloway.
Bowman was once again called into action when Wofford called and asked Bowman to first assist and then take the helm of its volleyball program. In the early stages of its transition to Division I and the Southern Conference, Bowman led the team for four seasons, taking it from a team that won six matches in his second year to a 17-15 record in 2001, the school's only winning season in the Division I era. He stepped down following the 2001 campaign, handing the job to his associate head coach Corey Helle, who is still at the helm of the Terriers. Bowman, meanwhile, stayed at Wofford for three more seasons as the director of operations for the men's and women's cross country and women's golf programs.
In 2004, Bowman returned to the Spartan athletic department and the volleyball program, this time as Calloway's assistant coach. In the past four seasons, he has helped Calloway to two 20-win seasons and a 71-56 (.559) record. Instrumental in the day-to-day operations of the program, Bowman is involved in all aspects of the Spartan program. He has helped coach five all-conference performers and helped Upstate reach three straight Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinal appearances to close the Division II era.
An active member in the Upstate community, Bowman has worked with the Red Cross, the Outdoor Leadership Association, the Piedmont Sertoma Club, and the Spartanburg County Planning Committee for Better Physical Education.
Bowman and his wife, Dee, have two sons, Craig and Brian.
The Bowman File BORN: Aug. 2, 1941