A true Cavalier legend retires from coaching

By Special to the Prep Sports Report | February 10, 2023

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As an opponent, time is undefeated.

When Jackie Hamilton reached into his closet to retrieve his 20-year-old letterman jacket, he was amazed at its decomposition.

“It just vaporized. I touched it and the rubber came off of the sides,” Hamilton recalled of the incident about two decades ago. “It was like a totally different substance. It was just strange. I threw it away. I was like, ‘Wow.’ ”

The thing about this particular member of Calvary Day School’s Class of 1980 is his allegiance remains solid. He had hung up the varsity jacket and eventually put on coaching gear after returning in 1992 as a faculty member at what is now Calvary Day School.

The standout four-sport athlete has over time coached three sports at CDS, most prominently the varsity girls basketball team. Hamilton, who will be 61 in March, has announced that this season, his 18th, will be his last.

Not that he’s leaving the school. He will continue to teach physical education and will be a familiar sight at Cavaliers games, observing from the stands.

It’s about time. Hamilton will carve out more personal time as a retired basketball coach because the alternative is giving his all to make the girls team better in preseason, in-season, during summer leagues and camps and when individual players want extra help to work on their skills.

“It’s a year-round commitment,” Hamilton said. “I just felt like I needed some more time for myself, for my family. I’m maybe a little burned out. I love coaching basketball, I love the practices. It’s just the time commitment. Just having to be somewhere all the time, basically, as opposed to having a little more time off.”

There’s not really any in between. That’s not Hamilton’s way. If he’s not working with the team, he’s probably thinking about ways to help the team.

“You’re feeling bad if you don’t because you know you need it,” he said.

It’s a mindset that goes back to his days playing boys basketball at Calvary for coach Ed Clarke, who “was all about the fundamentals and hard work is going to get you there,” said Hamilton, point guard on the Southeastern Association of Independent Schools state championship squad in 1979-80.

There’s also room to credit Hamilton’s mother, Marcia, who not only coached girls basketball and volleyball at Calvary, she wrote the alma mater song.

Her son said she composed the words while he watched Kentucky beat Duke in the 1978 NCAA championship game. It’s quite a Calvary legacy for the Hamiltons, with Jackie’s wife Kelli a graduate as are their children Sarah, 28, and Jake, 24.

So he’d better know the words to the song.

“If they need somebody, I can help them out,” he said. “They don’t want to hear me sing it, though.”

Calvary also can count on Hamilton to deliver a winning team. His career record is 424-90 through Feb. 7, including a 2007-08 state title in his third season.

That’s an average of 23.5 wins a season for 18 years, with the current squad 19-6 overall and 15-1 as Region 3-3A regular-season champion. Hamilton said only his first team of 2005-06, at 14-15, had a losing record, and all teams advanced to the state tournament.

Building and sustaining a winner takes great players and role players, all dedicated to the team, he said; impactful assistant coaches – such as his successor, Daniel Jackson -- and the support of the school.

“Our administration is committed to success,” Hamilton said. “It’s good when everybody’s on the same page and they’re willing to help our program, whatever they need to do.”

Has Hamilton ever requested something and been denied?

“I asked for a 6-foot-2 girl and they didn’t get that,” he quipped. “That’s about it. I don’t think I’ve been unrealistic wit Hamiltonh what I’ve asked for. They’ve been pretty gracious that whatever I wanted, they would do.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Jackie Hamilton

STORY PHOTO - (L-R) Former Cavalier players Sonny Canady Noble, Natalie Paris Lee and Katie Covington Scherer with current head coach Jackie Hamilton. 

Optim Orthopedics supports Benedictine Military School, Calvary Day School, Richmond Hill High School, Savannah Country Day, South Effingham High School, and St. Vincent's athletics. Benedictine Military School's team doctor is Dr. David Sedory. Dr. David Palmer is the team doctor for Calvary Day School, South Effingham, and Richmond Hill. Savannah Country Day and St. Vincent's team doctor is Dr. Thomas Alexander. Remember, Optim Orthopedics gets you back into the game.

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The "Coach" Karl DeMasi has been teaching and coaching for the past 35 years on all levels of academia and athletics. One of his hobbies has been writing, announcing and talking about sports. DeMasi has been involved in the Savannah Area sports scene since 1995, and he created the high school magazine "The Prep Sports Report" in 2000. In 2010, the "Coach" started broadcasting The Karl DeMasi Sports Report. He's still going strong, broadcasting on Facebook live and Twitter live every Saturday morning. You gotta love it!

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