Robert Hettler

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High School Coach

Bring up Bob Hettler’s name and three words spring to mind: dedication, service and success. Hettler served as a high school coach for 33 years and another five years as athletic director. After a year at Van Etten (NY) High School, Hettler moved to Amherst Central High where he served as the boys varsity basketball coach from 1940 to 1977. His career record in varsity basketball was 514 wins and only 113 losses. He became the first coach in New York State to win more than 500 games, a feat that earned him recognition from Sports Illustrated. Hettler sent many players on to college ball including, Bob Jaus and Rich Walsh at Canisius, Tom Bobenreid and Gary Munson at Cornell, Nick Shosho at the University at Buffalo and Pete Chudy, Fred Machemer and Bruce Schmelzer at Syracuse. In 32 years, his teams won 23 league championships and five sectional championships. Eight of his teams were undefeated and, at one point, his teams racked up a 64 game winning streak in the 1950s. But coaching basketball was only part of the Bob Hettler story.

During his long and distinguished career Hettler also served as the school’s AD and coached baseball, junior varsity football, soccer and the girl’s basketball teams – at one point winning 52 straight games. For 28 years he coached the Amherst High School baseball team. His teams won 328 games and 12 championships. He also won numerous titles in football and girl’s basketball. In 33 years coaching Hettler fielded more than 100 teams. Even today, although retired, Bob is still active in Amherst’s athletic program as a scorer and timer.

Hettler’s forte was the ability to get the best out of his players without being a dictator. “He certainly wasn’t the Vince Lombardi type,” recalls one former player, “but we all admired him and respected him, everybody liked him and wanted to play their best for him.”

In 1990, grateful parents, players and colleagues decided to thank Bob for his years of dedication and service by inducting him into the Amherst Athletic Hall of Fame at a banquet at the Buffalo Convention Center where 2,000 guests gave him a standing ovation.