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From Some Friends [an error occurred while processing this directive]

A Skater's Tribute to her Coach

Bubba,

I think that you were talented, special, and a wonderful man. You really taught me a lot while I was growing up, but this is a special tribute to you.

You brought out the greatness in everybody. When you walked up and met a person, you greeted them in a special way. In my world, you were the person to rely on when a person needed something.

You were a best friend, coach, father, husband, son, and the apple of peoples' eyes.

You will always be remembered and thought of, the way you dressed, how you smelled, and your great attitude towards everybody.

A lot of people probably feel a great deal of pain and emptiness, but I will never feel emptiness because I have you in my heart. About the only thing I feel is sadness.

You told me that it is better for people to remember you than to win. I think that is so true, but I will always try my hardest to win for you. Also, I will always remember what you taught me about life, and I will always hear you talking to me. I will always feel like you are with me, especially when I'm skating.

My heart will always be with you, 'til we meet again. May God be with you, I will love you always.

- Michelle Chadwick -

[Michelle Chadwick is now 14 and joined Embassy Skate Club in San Antonio, TX. after Coach Hamilton's death. Under Coach Hamilton, Michelle won several South Central Regional Championships and in 1995 won South Central Regionals in Elemetary Solo Dance at age 10! She quailfied for Nationals in 1994, 95, 96 and 97. In 1995, She and Kyle Benton won 1A Team dance at J.O. Nationals in Fresno, CA.]

A Skater's Tribute to her Coach:

The things I remember most about Bubba, of all the things, was at Nationals in 1996. My real coach did not go to Nationals that year because he was sick. Our other Coach did not like Solo Dance and did not help me much, so my dad asked Bubba to help me. I did not know Bubba that well then, but he did help me because I made the finals in Solo Dance.

Later at Nationals that year, my family and I were sitting in the stands waiting for my partner and my Pairs scores to be announced. Bubba came over and sat down with us. After a while he took a package out of his pocket and gave it to me. It was a silver necklace that said JO96 on it. Just then I knew it would be my favorite. Then it was time for Pairs scores. My partner and I got second. I guess we did pretty good for only skating together for a half a year.

Well that's what happened, and until this day I still have the necklace. When I got the necklace, I wasn't even one of his skaters. Now doesn't that tell you how nice he was?

Sara Taggi

[Sara Taggi is now 11 years old and still skates for Big Wheel]

A Skater's Tribute to her Coach:

Dear Bubba,

I am writing you this letter to tell you how much you meant to me, because I'm not sure that you know. I have so much to thank you for, so I guess I'll start at the beginning. Before I had even met you, you'd already done me a favor. You agreed with my dad to take me in as your skater when I didn't have anywhere else to go. At first, everything went quite smoothly between us, but before too long, we began to have some communication problems - I'm sure you remember. But you were so patient. Thank you for not giving up on me.

From then on, things went great! We got along so well and drew so close. Do you remember the little chats we used to have before my lessons? We would just skate around the floor for a while discussing my day at school, or how your day had gone, or even the latest skating gossip. I felt like I could talk to you about anything in or outside of the rink because you were such a good listener. You always understood… if I was angry, you would calm me down; if I was upset, you'd cheer me up; and if I was happy, you'd be happy right along with me. Thank you for being such a good friend.

But Bubba, not only were you a good friend, you were a great teacher. You taught me about the "whys" of skating and not just the "what to do's". You taught me the importance of technique - that it's more important to do a jump the proper way than it is to land it. That lesson can also be applied to everyday life as well as many of the other lessons you have taught me. You taught me the importance of dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline, through the way you lived your life. I saw how those values pay off because you had them and you were such a successful person and teacher. You were also the hardest worker I have ever known. My family and I have always admired how much you gave of yourself to your skaters — your time, your money, your sweat, your tears and your heart. Do you remember how when I was struggling with a jump, a spin or some turn on a figure you, would come into the rink the next day with a new idea on how to make it better that you had thought up after practice, the night before? It amazed me how you could sit up at night thinking about skating, and it made me feel special to know that you cared. Do you remember my first USAC Nationals? We were down in the ready area, and I was waiting for my warm-up when you pulled a little package out of your pocket. It was the 1993 Nationals charm. You gave it to me and said it was my trophy and I had earned it no matter how well I skated that day. You made me feel special then, too, just like so many other times. I think that positive effect you had on people was one of the reasons you were such a successful Coach. Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher.

You touched my life in so many ways through your friendship as well as our student-teacher relationship. You even got me listening to Frank Sinatra. I never got a chance to tell you, but I bought one of his cd's. It reminds me of you and those early morning summer practices we had before Regionals. Only you could have gotten me hooked on "old blue eyes". You were such a special person. Thank you once again for all you did for me. I love you and I'll never forget you.

Love, Sarah Smith

[Sarah Smith is now 18 years old and a Senior in high school. She left skating after the end of the 1996 Competitive Season to participate in 'Drum & Bugle Corps' at her high school. Sarah either won or placed in Singles and Figures every year at South Central Regionals from 1993-1996. In 1996, she won our South Central Regional Championship in Sophomore Ladies Singles and finished a strong 6th at Nationals.]

In loving Memory of F. M. "BUBBA" HAMILTON II

by Robert Taggi

I never did like picture shows that started with the end first, 'cause it kind of spoiled everything, knowing the ending and all. In Bubba's case we have to, because we did not know this gentleman until a little over a year ago. Never having been personally involved in Competitive Roller Skating ourselves, (I played Pro Hockey for a couple of years as a young man and my wife dabbled in several sports), we did not know much about Roller Skating until our daughters, first one then the other, took up the sport about four years ago. Our oldest daughter became very successful at skating, almost from the beginning, but only spent the last six months of last season as his student exclusively; hence, our ties with him explained.

We met Bubba kind of by chance at Pre-Regionals, here in our Region, in 1996. Phil Lawhorn, one of our rink's coaches had 3 figure skaters on the floor at the same time and our other coach, was no where to be found. Phil asked Bubba to spot my daughter for that event. I remember watching the two of them stand there, silent, but communicating, nonetheless. This went on for a while before eliminations and then again before finals. I never saw either of them speak. She won the event, but much more importantly, looking back, this is where the "magic" between the two started. Later we would see it was not only her, but he had the same special kind of magic with all who came into contact with him, whether they were his skaters or not.

Another great example of the "magic" was in evidence during the Las Vegas Meet in early 1997. Our rink's coach could not make the meet at the beginning due to problems beyond his control. Bubba took it upon himself to be at the rink at 6:30 am to help one of our skaters. He arrived just after she had skated eliminations in 1B figures and had made the finals holding 6th place. He worked with her for awhile, then they had a long talk. Shortly thereafter he pushed her back on the floor to skate finals. Not only did she WIN 1B Figures, she also won 1B Solo Dance as well and never failed to win either event the rest of the season.

I could go on and on about this marvelous man and his special abilities, but I think the story of "CR", long long ago, pretty much sums up his ability to get his skaters to believe in themselves and win on the floor. CR was great figure skater of Bubba's in the sixties. After winning South Central Regionals one year, she was lamenting that she now had to go up against, among others, a skater who had won 7 National Figure Championships in a row (all the way up from Primary) at Nationals that year. How could she beat this girl, she asked Bubba. Bubba replied that you must believe that you are better than her and if you truly do believe, you will win. Well guess what, CR did beat this girl and won Nationals in Junior Figures that year. No names mentioned, but the lady we are speaking of who won those 7 Championships in a row is still around. She was the coach of the just retired, 4 time US Mens World Class Figure Champion. Those of you who know skating know who all these people are. This TRUE story was one of the many tools Bubba used to make his students not only winners in life and also on the skating floor.

And class, this guy just had tons of it. Several years ago he anonymously donated a large some of money to our Annual Skaters Banquet so the kids could get trophies that particular year. (Ok BB, now you know). Another example, every time my daughter skated at a competition after they met at Pre-Regionals in 1996 until she joined his club, there was a telegram from him waiting for her at our hotel wishing her good luck at that meet or and advertisement in that competition's program doing the same or both.

Born January 8, 1938 (Elvis's Birthday), Bubba was the second oldest of the four Hamilton Boys. As a youngster, he used to "snitch" on his brothers, said his mom, Mrs. F. M. Hamilton Sr., who is still resides in the family home in Fort Worth. When he was a boy he used to be the family and neighborhood mediator, says his youngest brother Pat. Even at that young age, Bubba, was already cultivating what would turn out to be one of his greatest assets as an adult, the ability to take people from all walks of life and very quickly mold them into a competitive skating team, while keeping what I call 'the rink bologna' at a minimum.

As a young man, skating competitively in the fifties, some accounts have him winning 2 National Championships, up to as many as 8. He knew the correct figure obviously, but was too modest to say when asked, he always changed the subject. He stopped skating competitively around 1960 and began to teach full time. "Although we had no daughters and Bubba had no sisters, he seemed to have a special way with the girls he taught," says Edna Hamilton, his wife of 35 years. Edna also skated competitively and taught back in those days. "All the girls wanted to skate with or for Bubba" she said, "His grace and charm were overpowering. He always skated and taught in a suit and tie, even at the end; he was a classy guy."

Bubba started teaching at the 'Rocket Roller Rink' in Dallas in 1960 and by the end of the 1961 Season had already cranked out the first of many National Champions. On July 2, 1962, Bubba and Edna were married. Edna already had a young son, Ken, from her first marriage. They would have two more sons, Floyd "Morgan" Hamilton lll and Michael. All three sons skated only briefly, Ken and Morgan as children and Michael as a teenager. This bothered Bubba, but he claimed it was his own fault.

Around 1966, Edna got a job with Braniff and the two moved to Houston. Bubba got a job teaching at the old Skate Ranch there working for the legendary Norm Malone. He worked there for most of the next ten years or so, with short side trip to a rink in Waco, still cranking out those National Champions. Throughout all of his adventures in skating, Bubba was a steadfast husband and father as evidenced by the 17 year hiatus he took from skating. From 1975-1992, Bubba was forced to leave his great passion of teaching on the back burner, as he had to put 3 sons through college. As his wife Edna puts it, "you don't get rich being a skating coach." He sold shoes at Sears and then started his own company in the asbestos removal field. When the last son graduated from college, Bubba sold his business and went to the Sports Page in Pasadena to start up still another of his "Five Year Artistic Skating Programs". Once again he started cranking out National Champions almost immediately. Such Skaters as Kyle and Lacey Benton and Michelle Chadwick, who all still skate, come to mind. He almost had another one in Pensacola this year two weeks before he left us. My daughter was holding 1st going into 2a Figure Finals, but she finished second.

All his adult life Bubba dreamed of having his own rink. I remember when I used to take my daughter to Houston for lessons on the weekend, we always seemed to wind up in his car driving around the Houston area, with him pointing out the different rinks that he and Edna had discussed buying at one time or another. Fortunately, his dream came true in February 1997. His former college roommate, long time best friend and coaching colleague, leased him Big Wheel Skateland in Arlington, Texas which he had full intentions of buying at years end. This whole arrangement worked out perfectly for Bubba as his wife had been transferred back to the Dallas, Fort Worth area by her employer last year. Although he was only there for a few months before he left us, he quickly made the rink like home for all of us who came. Honest to Gosh, when I walked into that rink I felt so at home, it was like walking into my own living room, and I REALLY mean that!!

On the way home from Bubba's rink tonight I said to my daughter, Sara, do you feel cheated not knowing Coach Hamilton for very long before he left us? Sara thought for a minute, then said "yea. but at least we knew him for a little while. Think of all the skaters who never met him - they're the ones who got cheated." Ten-year-olds are something, aren't they?

Goodbye my friend - rest in peace - your legacy lives.

- RobertT142 -