WALTHAM, Mass. – Bentley University Athletic Hall of Famer Bert Hammel, a standout on the basketball court for the Falcons who went on to a successful coaching career and was known for his commitment to the youth of Lawrence, passed away suddenly over the weekend at the age of 67.
Hammel, a 1973 Bentley graduate, 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.
"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, who had the pleasure of playing 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.
Hammel spent virtually his entire professional career as the head men's basketball coach at Merrimack College, leading the Warriors for 36 years from 1980-2016 and amassing over 500 victories.
But it was off the court that the Scarsdale, N.Y. native truly made his mark. He was devoted to the youth of Lawrence through his work with the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club as well his efforts with the Academic Basketball Awareness Camp that he ran for 35 years. Boys and Girls Club members, most from the inner city, went to Merrimack each summer for intense basketball coupled with classroom time and motivational speakers.
In 2017, Hammel was honored as the Sportsman of the Year by the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune.
"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."
Hammel's wake will be Wednesday from 5-8 pm at the Saint Michael Church in North Andover and his funeral will be Thursday morning at 10 am at the same location.