By Bill Burt/The Eagle Tribune
Bert Hammel always loved inspirational slogans over his 36 years as men’s basketball coach at Merrimack College.
Most of them related to hard work, mental toughness, etc.
One, in particular, from former North Carolina State coach Jimmy Valvano at the ESPY’s in 1993, who was dying of cancer at the time, was a Hammel favorite:
“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”
Well, Hammel, the 2017 Eagle-Tribune Sportsman of the Year, was literally on his death bed, air-lifted to Massachusetts General Hospital, and given a “10 percent” chance of surviving after a massive heart attack and numerous blood clots.
While heavily medicated, Hammel was about to be wheeled out to surgery, apparently hearing the low expectations. According to the doctor, Hammel took off his breathing mask and said “Doc, let’s do this.” Then he fist-bumped the doctor.
Hammel beat the long odds last July. He never gave up.