MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Northeast 10 Conference community is mourning the passing of Bert Hammel, who passed away on Saturday, October 6 at the age of 67. The longtime head coach of Merrimack men's basketball and former student-athlete at Bentley, he leaves behind a strong legacy in college athletics and community outreach.
Hammel, a mentor, humanitarian and Warrior, was Merrimack's head coach for 36 seasons. He was a star basketball player 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.
"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," said Joe Gallo, current men's basketball coach at Merrimack. "He was larger than life and meant so much to so many people. He is a Hall of Fame coach, father, husband and friend."
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.
During his playing days, Hammel starred for the Falcons on the hardwood from 1970-73. His career featured a sparkling 66-13 record during three varsity seasons and the first two NCAA College Division tournament berths in the program’s impressive history.
Hammel, who played alongside his brother Brian during his final two Bentley seasons, was a co-captain and MVP of a 24-3 team as a senior. The six-foot-four forward produced 17.3 points and 6.6 rebounds a game that season and finished his career with averages of 15.3 points and 6.7 boards while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor.
“Bert’s list of accomplishments define his success as an athlete and as a coach,” said Bentley Director of Athletics Bob DeFelice. “But I look at him as the ultimate definition, in every aspect, of being a man. He was the epitome of what all of us in athletics strive to be.”
Hammel spent more than three decades in North Andover, 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.
“Bert’s passing is a devastating blow to so many of us because of who he was and what he stood for,” reflected Bentley men’s basketball coach Jay Lawson. “He was a passionate coach and educator who had an extraordinary commitment to the growth of young people. Someone whose effort went far beyond the call of duty. However, those students were not the only ones Bert had a big impact on. He was also an extraordinary role model for adults because of his natural presence that portrayed a unique combination of toughness, compassion, dignity and humility.”
-Information for this release provided by athletic communications offices at Bentley and Merrimack-
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The NE10 is an association of 15 diverse institutions serving student-athletes across 24 NCAA Division II sports. Together we build brilliant futures by embracing the journey of every student-athlete.
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