Not long after the implementation of Title IX, propelling the growth of women’s sports, Sandra Hamm provided one of the building blocks to history, serving as the first head coach of the 11-time national champion University of Connecticut women’s basketball program.
Hamm, a 1969 graduate of Terryville HIgh School and a member of the Central Connecticut State University Class of 1973, where she played basketball for the legendary Brenda Reilly — also a member of the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame — served as UConn’s head coach during the 1974-75 season. During that time, she also taught physical education at a junior high school in Manchester, as the coaching job was not yet full time. There were no scholarships available and the Huskies finished 2-8 in their first varsity season, formerly having competed as a club.
Hamm also refereed high school and college basketball later in her career, tasked with officiating Division I, II and III contests throughout New England at the NCAA level. She reffed high school state tournament games, an NCAA tournament game and served as a collegiate assignor/coordinator of officials for Divisions II and III.
“We grew up playing sports in our yard,” said Hamm, who credits her siblings, Linda, Brenda and Artie, as the greatest influences in her career. “We had an outdoor hoop with lights so we could play or practice day or night.”
She quotes Duke University women’s basketball coach Kara Lawson, who said, “Handle hard better.” Hamm’s advice to any player, coach or referee is to “always give 110% every time you are on a basketball court (or in life) and enjoy your experience while you can.”
Hamm’s sister, Linda, will present her as she is inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. “She was an excellent role model as a person, player, coach and educator,” Hamm said.
Hamm played basketball, softball, field hockey and badminton in high school and basketball and field hockey at Central Connecticut, where she earned her degree in physical education. She played ASA fast-pitch softball for the Waterbury Starlets and professionally as the third baseman for the Connecticut Falcons, as well as playing for United States Volleyball Association and U.S. Field Hockey Association teams and competing for the U.S. Eastern Amateur Ski Association. She was the assistant softball coach at the University of New Haven and the assistant basketball coach at New Haven under her sister, Linda.
Hamm, who resides in Manchester Center, Vermont, enjoys hiking, trail running (with her dogs), helping her wife raise a small flock of Icelandic sheep and generally being outdoors.