The Merrimack College community is mourning the passing of Bert Hammel, former men’s basketball head coach, who passed away on Saturday, October 6.
Hammel, a mentor, humanitarian and Warrior, was Merrimack’s head coach for 36 seasons. He was a star student-athlete at Bentley University, graduating in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. In 1974, he joined the men’s basketball program as an assistant coach before ultimately taking over in 1980.
He amassed 526 wins in his Merrimack career, guided the program to six NCAA Tournament appearances and won three Northeast-10 Conference titles, including both the regular season and tournament championship in the 1999-2000 year. Hammel was one of just 59 coaches ever to total over 500 wins in NCAA Division II history.
Hammel was a fixture on campus for more than three decades, and his impact not only on the sport, but also on the lives of many was felt throughout the Merrimack Valley. He was notably involved in the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club in addition to his ABA Camp, which became one of the most prominent youth basketball camps in the area.
The Methuen native’s life will be remembered for the far-reaching impact his work with children in the community had. He was recognized twice by the City of Lawrence for his devotion to the Boys and Girls Club. Other honors Hammel received included the 2017 Eagle Tribune Sportsman of the Year award, the National Association of Basketball Coaches Literacy Champion Award and the UMass Amherst Sports Management Program Service Beyond Recognition Award.
Services will be this Wednesday and Thursday at Saint Michael’s Church in North Andover. Hammel Court will be open on Wednesday evening on campus from 7-10 p.m. for the Merrimack basketball community and friends. The wake will be held on Wednesday evening from 5:00-8:00 p.m., and the funeral mass will occur on Thursday morning at 10 a.m.
The entire Merrimack community is asked to remember the Hammel family in their prayers.
Men’s Basketball Head Coach Joe Gallo: “Coach has touched and influenced so many lives over the last 40 years. I have never seen anyone that has the ability to light up a room like he did. He was larger than life and meant so much to so many people. He is a Hall of Fame coach, father, husband and friend.”
Women’s Basketball Head Coach Monique LeBlanc: “Like so many others, I could go on and on regarding all of the great things about Bert and what he meant to me. Bert was a mentor and friend during several big moments of my life: my first time being a head coach, getting married and becoming a parent. He always offered great advice, and he would share stories from his own experiences. We shared a lot of bus rides, and with that, we shared one another’s highs and lows of coaching. I am forever grateful for his guidance and friendship.”
Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Mike Morgan: “Bert was always the guy you could have a serious program conversation with one day, and the next day you would be laughing hysterically at one of the many, many stories he had, not just about basketball, but life. One of the most important lessons I learned from him was how important it was to really care for your student-athletes, as well as the community as a whole. He was certainly one of a kind, and I’ll never forget the impact he had on me personally as a young coach in his first collegiate job, and I’ll always be thankful of him for that.”
Men’s Ice Hockey Associate Head Coach Curtis Carr: “Bert was one of the first guys to come introduce himself to me when I took the job at Merrimack and he didn’t want to just know about me personally, he wanted to know about my family and my background. He was very open and told me if there’s anything I needed he’d always be there. He was someone I can go to and just talk to about life and coaching and all experiences. He was a quiet mentor without really knowing it, and he was a great example to a younger coach in his first college job of who you would want to be like how you should handle student-athletes moving forward.”
Men’s Soccer Head Coach Tony Martone: “Bert was a friend and a colleague. He was one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever met as a coach, and yet off the court you could not find a more friendly, kind and caring human being. He will be greatly missed by so many. May he rest in peace.”
Women’s Soccer Head Coach Gabe Mejail: “Bert was always someone who could make time for you no matter what he had going on at that moment. He always made you feel welcome and was one of the most genuine people I’ve ever come across. The amount he cared about his players was what truly stood out. He was invested as much, if not more so, in their development as human beings as he was in their development as basketball players.”