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High School Coach Going the Distance to Honor the Memory of Her Former Player

Conard coach Becca Lewis. Conard vs. Glastonbury boys soccer. Sept. 8, 2022. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Becca Lewis, who formerly coached the softball team at West Hartford’s Hall High School and is now Conard’s boys soccer coach, will lead a fundraising team in the Jimmy Fund Walk to honor a former player.

Jackie Hamad. Courtesy photo

By Paul Palmer

“After Jackie’s death, I needed somewhere to channel my energy.”

Those are the words of Becca Lewis, and the reason why the former Hall softball and current Conard boys soccer coach will be spending Oct. 1 walking the Boston Marathon route as part of the Jimmy Fund Walk.

Jackie is Jackie Hamad, a consummate team player who was always thinking of others first, so organizing a walk in her memory felt like what Jackie would do for someone else, Lewis said. The relationship between coach and player goes beyond the x’s and o’s of a game, it is an everlasting appreciation. It is fitting that Lewis and “ Team Jackie” will be out making a difference just two days shy of the six-month anniversary of Jackie’s passing following a battle with a form of brain cancer.

Day of Softball in Honor of Jackie Hamad, held at Sterling Field in West Hartford on July 30, 2023. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg (we-ha.com file photo)

“It gives me a chance to keep her memory alive.”

Jackie Hamad was just 17 years old, a senior at Hall High School when she took on her fight. Despite the illness, constant treatments, and trips to the Dana Farber Cancer Clinic in Boston, Jackie completed the work to earn her degree in June. Her parents and brother accepted the diploma from Principal Dan Zittoun to a standing ovation from classmates, friends, and family.

Lewis will be walking along with friends, fellow teachers, coaches, and West Hartford Public Schools district employees. They are fundraising and training for the event, and the money they raise will go to Dana Farber.

Hall Principal Dan Zittoun (left) gives Jackie Hamad’s diploma to her parents, Pamela and Michael. Hall High School graduation. June 13, 2023. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg (we-ha.com file photo)

“For Jackie, it did not matter if she was a starter or the last one in, she was always about the team.”

That is how the coach remembers her former player.  It is that kind of spirit that drives Lewis to make a difference for others who are going through what Jackie and her family endured. “I reached out to people and we started raising money,” said Lewis. On Sept. 19, during what is now the annual Conard vs. Cancer game, Lewis’ Conard soccer team honored the memory of Jackie and former Red Wolves girls soccer coach Kerrie Massaro who lost her life to cancer in 2021. With players wearing special shirts for the game, there was also a raffle that helped raise hundreds of dollars that was split between charities honoring both Jackie and Kerrie.

Hall’s Jackie Hamad connects on the pitch. Hall vs. Simsbury softball. April 25, 2022. Photo credit: Paul Palmer (we-ha.com file photo)

“Jackie was the epitome of a giver.”

Lewis hopes that spirit of giving and helping will endure as “Jackie’s Team” continues to honor and remember a young woman who lived for helping others.

To learn more about Jackie and the Jimmy Fund Walk, or to donate, visit the team’s fundraising page.

Becca Lewis (left) was Jackie’s softball coach at Hall High School. Day of Softball in Honor of Jackie Hamad, held at Sterling Field in West Hartford on July 30, 2023. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg (we-ha.com file photo)

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