Teri Sampson was a reserve on Simeon coach Bob Hambric's 1984 state championship team and his 1985 Public League championship team. When he learned of his old coach's death last week, he e-mailed his feelings about the man who played an important role in his life and helped to shape him as a man.
Hambric was an enigma to many basketball fans who saw him as a tyrant, an uncompromising boot camper who turned basketball into his own version of Hell Week. But Sampson and others who got as close to Hambric as he would allow found him to be someone who helped to develop boys into men.
Here is what Sampson had to say:
"Most people know him only as a coach who had a lot of success. But there was a much bigger and better agenda who everything he was about. A great strategist in terms of X's and O's, he was more about discipline, structure and accountability than anything else.
"As young men playing for him, a lot of us didn't think he was fair to us at times. We had the usual teenage complaints...he is too hard on us, we can't dress and do the things the way we want to, he is not letting us loose as players
"But as we became men most of those who played under him appreciated and respected hi for what he was trying to accomplish. Although we didn't always agree, we learned to accept his coaching style. And look how many other coaches have copied his style and his coaching methods in some way.
"Now I am a rather and coach of an AAU traveling team of seventh graders and I find myself preaching the same things he did to my children and my team. I also am a Public League basketball official and I see so many changes in today's game and the kids and it amazes me. Unfortunately, the changes aren't for the better.
"I'm not talking about talent or ability. I'm talking about the things that coaches and adults let the players get away with. From disrespecting their teammates, coaches, officials and even themselves, it appalls me and makes me shake my head. Recalling how we were taught by coach Hambric, I say: 'No matter how successful we were, my teammates and I never could have gotten away with that.'
"I feel lucky to have been an athlete in the 1980s, which I consider the Golden Age of Coaches in the city. The Bob Hambrics, George Stantons, Bill "Pops" Aldersons, Luther Bedfords, Al Scotts, J.W. Smiths, Roy Currys and Landon Coxes were about something that most coaches I see today should take a cue from.
"That's the old school. Coaches were about raising boys to be men right away. They didn't care about winning if it involved the wrong way, kissing up to a teenager who couldn 't provide for himself just because he could dribble, dunk or run with the ball faster than someone else. It was their way or the highway.
"Thank God for the time I had in that era because it has produced so many responsible men. I am sending a message I got in 1985. Parents, coaches and adults should take hold of our youth with discipline, structure and accountability and stop making excuses when they do something wrong. Instead, correct the problem.
"Coach Hambric and the other coaches in the 1980s did it and it worked for us and it can work for the children of today. That's the biggest legacy of Bob Hambric's life...the number of successful boys he helped to raise into men."