Former longtime Sacred Heart Academy softball coach Ray Ramelli died on Monday night due to complications following surgery. He was 74.
Ramelli had three different stints as Sacred Heart Academy’s varsity head coach, the last from 2008-14. He also previously coached at Sheehan.
“It’s a giant hole,” said Ray Ramelli, Jr., his oldest son, on Tuesday. “All day I’ve been getting text (messages) from (former) players. He was their biggest cheerleader, their biggest fan. He loved being around them and they loved him back.”
Ray, Jr. and Al, the youngest of three brothers, served as assistants to dad on the Sharks’ lone state championship team in 2011. Sacred Heart Academy was seeded 23rd in the Class M division with an 11-9 regular-season record. The Sharks pulled off five seeded upsets, including Seymour in the final.
“It was indescribable, a magical run,” Ray Jr. said. “To be a part of that with my dad and brother, everything went right that postseason.“
Katie Winkle, a senior, had two hits in that finale against Seymour.
“Coach Ray put the Heart in Sacred Heart. He was one of a kind,” said Winkle, now a pediatric oncology nurse at Yale University. “He is just a legend for women’s softball all across the state of Connecticut. So many girls looked up to him.”
A Hamden High graduate and a retired Hamden firefighter, Ramelli first coached the Sacred Heart Academy softball program in the early 1990s, left for a brief period, then came back.
Betsy Tranquilli, who played for Ramelli during that second stint, said Ramelli was the only person she ever referred to as “Coach.” She also learned a lot from him about loyalty.
“Coach cared most about us as people above winning, above playing and all else,” said Tranquilli, now an elementary school teacher in Hawaii. “That often brings out the best in players. I never wanted to disappoint him. He always had my back. … I’m so fortunate that I was able to have him in my life.”
Ramelli and Tranquilli are still a part of the only Sacred Heart Academy team to reach an SCC tournament final back in 1997, falling to Amity 6-5 in 9 innings.
Al Ramelli has been Sacred Heart Academy’s head coach since 2015. His dad spent a few seasons as his volunteer assistant.
He also has spent countless hours volunteering his time at the school.
“Ray would get there every day around 1:20 (p.m.). If he couldn’t be there, everyone wondered what happened to him,” said former Sacred Heart Academy athletic director George Bedocs, also a former Hamden High grad. “They adored him. He was there for the kids and he was there for me. He was a part of the building. He will be sorely missed.”
Said Ray Jr.: “He had such a deep love for that school.”
Ramelli is survived by his wife Tina and three sons, Ray Jr., Roger and Al. Services are pending.