Connecticut lost another boys basketball coaching legend last week.
Wally Camp, one of 15 CIAC coaches to win over 500 games, passed away last Wednesday at 87. All 508 victories came at Coginchaug in Durham.
Camp began coaching boys basketball in 1958, when the school was known as Durham High. He coached until 1990. That run included 11 Shoreline Conference championships and the 1974 Class S state championship.
Todd Salva succeeded him and remains one of the only two boys basket all coaches in the school’s history.
“It’s really difficult to accept he is gone,” Salva said. “He’s been such a big part of my life since I was a freshman in high school. He was my teacher, my coach, my colleague, my mentor and probably most importantly, he was my friend. That’s a pretty big cycle to go through.”
Salva said Camp, who also coached baseball and soccer and served as athletic director at the school, incorporated the matchup defense when very few others used it. They met after almost every game Salva coached to discuss what had happened.
“He didn’t say a lot, but what he said was important,” Salva said. “Three quarters through last season we meet after a game and I ask him, ‘Wally what do you really think?’ He said, ‘I really think you can win it all. The kids have to do one thing. They have to get tougher. I brought that message to our kids. The kids took it to heart, and we found another gear.”
Coginchaug advanced to the Class S final as the No. 11 seed. The Blue Devils fell to No. 1 seed Immaculate.
Former longtime Haddam-Killingworth coach Paul McCormick was on the losing end of Camp’s 500th career win.
“I only knew him the first five years of my coaching career but he took an avuncular approach with me and was kind enough to share some of his experiences about the league with me, which proved to be of great assistance to me as I began my 30 years in the Shoreline Conference,” McCormick said. “I will be forever grateful for his kind words and knowledgable instruction.”
Camp’s funeral takes place at St. Coleman Church in Middlefield at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Burial will be held at Mica Hill Cemetery in Durham. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Benchwarmers, the booster club Camp helped create, and mailed to Mr. William Lema, Treasurer at 43 Sand Hill Road in Durham, 06422. For memories or condolences go to visitwww.biegafuneralhome.com.