SOUTHINGTON – William Haman’s former athletes turned out in the hundreds earlier this month at a memorial service honoring the coach. They included youths from town leagues and Kennedy Middle School teams to former athletes who had him as a coach 20 years ago.
“These junior high schoolers, so many of them came to the wake,” Haman’s daughter Melissa Haman said. “I told them, ‘My dad loved you guys, whether you won or lost and he loved everything he did.’”
Haman died March 7 at the age of 67.
He had a career in automotive parts and while cars were a hobby he’s best known in Southington and Berlin as a basketball coach.
Haman instructed third and fourth-grade boys basketball in the fundamentals of the game, his daughter recalled.
“Those were the little guys just learning not to travel. And boy did they travel,” Melissa Haman said.
During the summer, regardless of how hot it was, Haman taught a basketball clinic in Berlin for elementary and middle school athletes.
“It could be 95 degrees and he’d still be out there with them,” his daughter said. “He liked to teach the kids. He was all about the kids.”
Haman was a coach for Southington Youth Basketball Association and on the group’s executive board.
Mike DeFeo, association president, said Haman had volunteered for 40 years with the group and other organizations. Many knew him as the man running the score clock at travel games or setting up the concession stand.
“Bill was a very special person who went of his way to help all students and players throughout his life,” DeFeo said. “Bill was always there to help out.”
Melissa Haman said her father could be reserved but would shout and cheer along with his friends at sporting events such as car races or basketball games.
“They’d get really, really into their sports,” she said. “He was pretty mellow for the most part, but when it came to interacting with his sports and the kids and everything, he loved what he did.”
Melissa Haman said she and her father played sports, shot pool and drove to the then-Riverside Park in Massachusetts on Saturday nights with friends.
“Those are some of my best memories,” she said. “We all used to pile in and we’d have the best time.”
Melissa Haman also remembered how her father would help neighbors and others, often in unseen ways.
Jack Eisenmann, a SYBA board member, said Haman’s death was “devastating.”
“He was just there for the kids,” Eisenmann said. “He was always the guy you could count on when you had games going on. Billy was always there when you needed him.”
The basketball association is considering a scholarship and other ways to continue Haman’s legacy.
Haman supported the creation of the Southington Middle School Athletic Association and his daughter said donations in his name can be made to that group.
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