A story came out of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram today that almost no one outside of western Wisconsin will notice.
But it means a great deal to me.
Outside of my parents, I can hardly think of a person who was more significant to my development as a young man than Pat Hammond, my high school basketball coach at Eau Claire North. Coach was a teacher, a mentor, a role model, and even a confirmation sponsor to me in high school, and (now that I’m less intimidated by him!) has become a friend. I can’t think of a person who did more to instill in me the importance of a strong, disciplined work ethic than him, and so if you happen to have benefited in any way from my work, you owe something to Coach Hammond.
Coach announced his retirement today after 40 years of coaching, 26 of which were at E.C. North. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“The longest and most successful coaching tenure in city public school history has come to an end…. The Menomonie native served the Huskies 26 years, taking his second team to the state tournament in 1985 and closing out his career by taking his last teams to state the past two years. Overall, he posted a 331-236 record at North and finished a 40-year coaching career with a 477-333 record. He had 19 winning seasons with the Huskies and, take away a four-year span between 1997 and 2000 when he survived an 11-71 drought [Note: I graduated in ’96], his North record was 320-165. Hammond leaves after guiding his final team to eight straight wins down the stretch before losing in the WIAA Division 1 quarterfinals to Racine Horlick, 55-47, in a 17-8 season. A year earlier the Huskies won 12 of 14 before losing to Wauwatosa East, 53-38, in the state quarterfinals in an 18-5 season.
…’Thank God we all love the game,’ [his wife] Susan said. ‘It’s definitely been a family affair.’ Hammond, who outlasted several school principals, thanked his players, assistant coaches and the administration for playing a role in the Huskies’ success. ‘I’m proud of the way our teams conducted themselves on the court,’ he said. ‘They acted like gentlemen. I got excited at times but I’m old school and there’s nothing the matter with that.’
‘It’s time to move on,’ he said. ‘I have no definite plans. I just want to wish the new coach and the players continued success.'”
You are loved, Coach! Thank you for all you’ve done.