William A. McWilliams Jr. ’57

William A. McWilliams Jr. ’57

A world-class hammer-thrower, Bill McWilliams ’57 carried the tradition of Bowdoin throwers into the second half of the twentieth century.

Born in Winchester, Massachusetts, McWilliams was a tremendous multi-sport athlete in high school at Hanover High and was drawn to Bowdoin’s track program by legendary coach Jack Magee. An outstanding student, McWilliams’ studies in Latin earned him several academic honors, including the Orren Chalmer Hormell Trophy for “high scholastic honors and skill in athletic competitions.”

And a remarkable skill it was.

Nurtured by a pair of renowned coaches— Magee and Frank Sabasteanski—McWilliams excelled immediately at Bowdoin, continuing to compete and go undefeated in freshman competition in both the shot put and discus, his high school events. After suffering a serious hand injury throwing the shot put, he took up the hammer throw as a sophomore in 1955 and set a new record for first-year throwers, 182 feet, 2 inches, bettering the old record by almost 2 feet. That same year, McWilliams capped a tremendous campaign by becoming a quadruple winner at the Maine State Championship, placing first in the hammer, discus, shot put, and javelin, and second in the hammer in the New England Championships.

In 1956, McWilliams became an All- American in the hammer, defeating an all-division field that included powerhouse schools such as Texas, Notre Dame, UCLA, and USC. Not only did he win the NCAA Championship, he shattered the previous mark with a heave of 195 feet, 3 inches. He also won three events at the Maine State Championship and finished seventh overall at the Olympic trials, just missing a trip to the finals in which the top six qualified.

McWilliams was an All-American again as a senior, and won State crowns in the hammer and discus. His efforts set him up for another run at the Olympics, where he improved his previous mark and broke the meet record with a throw of more than 203 feet. Unfortunately for McWilliams, three others also beat that mark and he finished fourth, again edged out of a spot on the Olympic squad.

After Bowdoin, McWilliams recaptured his multi-sport magic by becoming a Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star, a New England Champion power lifter, and a football punter and placekicker. He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 1968. More recently, McWilliams returned to his roots and became a World Masters’ Champion (over-55) in the hammer throw in 1991.

An educator by trade, McWilliams passed on his knowledge of throwing to another Bowdoin great, Alex Schulten ’66, who, under McWilliams’ tutelage, broke several of his marks during his collegiate career.

Bill makes his home in Centerville, Massachusetts, where he is still very active in the real estate business. Together with his wife, Ann, they raised four sons, two of whom attended Bowdoin—Alex of the Class of 1981 and David of the Class of 2002—and now enjoy seven grandchildren.