2012 is Hamley's Best as Head Coach
by Marisa Pooley
For the Colorado Mammoth, the 2012 season has been highlighted by record-breaking performances, nine NLL weekly awards, five NLL player of the month honors, a league-best 11-3 mark, and being the first team to clinch a postseason berth. For head coach Bob Hamley, it has meant the best regular season of his career.
“[It’s] very rewarding,” said the Ontario native.
Previously, Hamley served as head coach and general manager of the Arizona Sting. Under his direction, the Sting competed in the Champion’s Cup Final in 2005 and 2007 but lost both title games. After a brief stint as assistant coach for the Mammoth in 2008, Hamley went on to coach the Edmonton Rush. Despite his efforts, the Rush finished the season ranked last in the division.
Halfway into the 2010 season, Hamley resumed his place with the Mammoth, this time as head coach. The 2010 and 2011 seasons were not kind to the Mammoth or Hamley, though. In fact, they were the two worst seasons in franchise history (4-12 in 2010 … 5-11 in 2011).
“Bob and I faced a lot of adversity together,” said president & general manager Steve Govett, “but we both had the vision for what we wanted this team to be.”
Now, Hamley has coached the Mammoth to six more wins than a year ago…with two games left to play.
“It’s a big year for me,” said Hamley. “We kind of struggled the last few years and as a coach, you want to help the team and players succeed and then you’ll have success too.”
So what’s changed in the past year?
“If you’re not learning, you’re not growing and I learned a lot with the losses,” Hamley said, “I learned what personnel you need to be successful in the NLL.”
When faced with the decision whether to retain Hamley for a third season, Govett believed that together they could lead Colorado to a better fate in 2012. He agreed with Hamley, though, that it would begin with some fresh faces.
“We had to rebuild,” said Govett, who has held his position with the organization for more than a decade since the team called the nation’s Capitol home. “The only way we could rebuild it is if we were on the same page. We decided that we were going to fix it and jumped in with both feet, together. The transactions and deals we made over the course of the last off-season helped us figure out how we were going to make it happen.”
In the 2011 off-season the Mammoth acquired 10 rookies, seven of which are on the active roster. Both Govett and Hamley think that was pivotal in transforming the team.
“The youth and young legs are very important,” said the head coach. “Speed in the game of lacrosse is crucial.”
To Govett, the rookies have been, in a word, “awesome”.
“We’ve been excited about the great opportunities that these guys have presented for us. They’ve really fit in well and the chemistry has been good.”
It is the rookies’ talent, combined with Hamley’s unique coaching style, that have given the Mammoth an edge.
Hamley believes that offense is built around sharing the ball. That strategy was clear in the April 14 game against the defending champion Toronto Rock, as twelve Mammoth players registered points in the 19-12 win.
“The ball has to be moving,” explained Hamley. “If teams know that we are just going to rely on John Grant Jr., then it is going to be pretty easy to defend us. We have a lot of talents and we have to use them. We are a team that relies on many guys to create an offense.”
Govett thinks that the coaching staff as a whole has boosted the Mammoth to its spot atop the standings. The teamwork between Hamley and assistant coaches Sean Ferris and Ed Comeau has been key.
“I have never been with a coaching staff that is this dedicated, focused this much attention on getting better every week, and utilized every player to the best of his ability,” explained Govett.
With talent, strategy and a support staff on his side, this season might be Hamley’s best chance to hoist the Champion’s Cup as a head coach.