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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Saying goodbye to legendary Clawson coach Judy Hacker

How do you properly mourn a beloved high school coach?
Tearfully go through a box or two of Kleenex.
Solemnly huddle up with former teammates.
But mostly make a toast, uncork some memories of games and practices gone by, and tell stories.
Here’s the obituary for Coach Judy Hacker.

Judy Rae Hacker, 72, a resident of Ortonville for 40 years, died April 22, 2011, at home.
A 1961 graduate of Bowling Green State University she taught for one year in Colrain, OH, before becoming a physical education teacher in Clawson  from 1962 until her retirement in 1995.
She was also well-known for her love of coaching basketball, softball and field hockey.
Judy is survived by her sister Sally Pummill, niece Robyn (Ron) Buckle, Josh and Kate Buckle, nephew Scott (Gabriela) Pummill and daughter Julia.
She is survived by many, many close friends.
Judy was preceded in death by her parents Raymond and Bernice Hacker.
Funeral Service will be held 4 p.m., Saturday, April 30, at Gramer Funeral Home, 705 North Main Street (Livernois, north of 14) Clawson.
Visitation Saturday from noon until 4 p.m.
Burial will take place in Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio.
Memorials may be made to McLaren Hospice, Michigan Humane Society and the Rose Center.
Visit to read and sign the guest book.

“I have so many great memories and I am only one person,” said Betty Wroubel, who played for Coach Hacker and later coached with her at Clawson High School.
“She made each and every one of us feel so special. She was a great teacher, coach, mentor, role model and probably a surrogate parent to us. I know that I would not be where I am without her in each of these roles.”
Wroubel is a 1971 graduate of Clawson High School. She is a teacher, coach and administrator at Notre Dame Prep High School in Pontiac. As a coach, she has won state championships in softball and volleyball. She has been named Coach of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association and the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association, and was inducted into the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association and Detroit Catholic League High School Leagues Halls of Fame.
“If you had a problem, Judy was someone you would go to for an honest, straight forward answer. She was a very direct person with tremendous wisdom; I do not think that Webster has come up with the appropriate words to describe such an influential person in the lives of so many. I certainly cannot do her justice,” continued Wroubel.
After graduating from Clawson High, Wroubel went on the play volleyball, tennis and field hockey at Central Michigan University.
Veronica “Ronnie” Hall was another one of Coach Hacker’s players. A pitcher, Hall went on to play softball at Lake Superior State. She also later coached with Judy Hacker.
Hall is now the chief operating officer at the Henry Ford Hospital and the chief nursing officer at the Henry Ford Hospital and Health Network. She is responsible for the management of patient care services, leading daily operations and personnel as she collaborates with medical staff and hospital leadership to ensure continued quality and efficiency.
“Judy had a tremendous influence on me,” said Hall. “I use the same skills today in my job that she used. She was masterful at assessing skills sets. She wanted to make sure everyone felt a part of the team.”
It was a team that Hall joined as a seventh grader at what was then Clawson Junior High. She distinctly remembers the welcoming environment that Coach Hacker created.
“Judy was my gym teacher in the seventh grade,” said Hall. “She told all of us that all who were interested should come out once a week after school to do other activities; depending on the season it could’ve been volleyball, basketball or badminton.
“I’d never touched a basketball before in my life, but I must’ve spent half of my life in that old gym,” continued Hall, a 1979 graduate of Clawson High School.
It was Coach Hacker who turned her into a fastpitch softball pitcher.
“I was not that good of a softball player my freshman year, but I made the team,” said Hall. “Judy told me that I was going to be a pitcher. I pitched batting practice. She had me warming up every game, but I never got in.
“It was the 13th game of the season, and she sent me to warm up again. I threw three pitches, and told her I was ready. Well, she put me in the game and my first pitch went over the backstop and onto the roof of the cafeteria. We played on the field behind the middle school then. Judy looked at me, and left me in to pitch. All I could see was that ball sitting on top of the school roof. From then on, when Judy told me to warm up, I warmed up.”
With Coach Hacker, it was about preparation. It was about commitment and dedication and teamwork. It was about opportunity at a time when there really were not that many opportunities for girls in high school sports.
Coach Hacker put out the Welcome Mat. Many, many benefited from that effort.
It’s time to say goodbye. Bring Kleenex, memories and a whole bunch of stories to the Gramer Funeral Home in Clawson Saturday.


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