My Turn: Community service has been done

Posted: Thursday, January 09, 2003

M y daughter is a senior at JDHS and yesterday she sent me the news concerning coach Hamey's sentencing. If Richard Schmitz's comments are true, I am disgusted with the school administrators who were responsible for ousting coach Hamey in this manner as well as the comments by the district attorney.

I played for coach Hamey from 1976-78. He was one of the most important and influential persons in my life. Over those years I learned many things from him, such as discipline, the virtue of working hard to attain goals, how to handle success and how to handle defeat, and how to compete fairly and ethically.

He was also one hell of a basketball coach, the best I ever had. I'm guessing we lost only 10-15 games in those three years and the last two years we would have won the state championship had it not been for some school administrators that allowed a transfer (recruit?) from New York to play for East Anchorage when he was 20 and 21 years of age.

There are just too many positive qualities about Coach Hamey to list here, so I'll just mention a few:

• Discipline: Coach drew the line with us and we knew what would happen if we crossed that line - whether it was running a few extra sprints the next practice or getting kicked off the team. And this line applied equally to all players, whether you were the star or warmed the bench. Far too often today, I see coaches who are afraid to discipline their star players and the results are appalling.

• Respect: All of my teammates respected coach Hamey, and all of his former players that I knew or played against also respected him. Most importantly, he never demanded this respect, he earned it.

• Dedication: Coach dedicated his life to us. Besides all the time for games, practice and travel, he also would open up the gym for us in the off-season. He also put on his basketball camp, bringing in quality coaches from the Lower 48.

• Openness: I remember coach as an adult that I could go to and talk to if something was bothering me.

• Control: We typically went on six to eight road trips each season, and trips sometimes lasted up to five days. Think about that for a second and consider how much potential trouble 12 teenage boys could get into during that time. Yet he pulled it off and I doubt that there are very few people in any community who could do that.

To Rick Svobodny I would ask, what is a greater crime:

A. To take someone's money who has deeply harmed you and then to recognize that what you have done is wrong and return the money on your own.

B. To conspire behind someone's back to take away their life's work and their livelihood, showing no respect or remorse in the process.

It is also a disgrace that Patricia Collins would require coach Hamey to go through 150 hours of community work service. Coach Hamey has already given hundreds of thousands of hours of community service to Juneau. Judge Collins should take the high road and recognize what this man has done for our community over the years and not disgrace him with her sentence. If the administrators' conspiracy is a greater crime, why haven't the district attorney and the court imposed a harsher sentence on the administrators?

True to his character, coach Hamey admitted his mistake and took full responsibility for his actions. The Empire says the administrators won't even comment. I'll tell you one thing: I hope to God that my four children grow up to have the character of coach Hamey in life and not that of the administrators.

Thank you Coach Hamey for everything that you've given to me and this community. God Bless.

• Dave Ignell graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1978. He lives in San Diego.

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