To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven… A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1,4 (Old Testament)
Fastpitch softball is built on the foundation of moms and dads who support their athletes, no matter how young or old, all-star or all-effort.
They coach and encourage; support and transport and, often, are there to do whatever it takes to uplift and make sure every detail is taken care of—from cleaning the uniforms to scoring the games to acting as Team Moms (or Dads).
One of those greatly beloved Team Moms was Dena Hamlin, the mother of 2020 Texas Tech signee Jacee Hamlin, who is currently playing for Impact Gold – Middlebrook. The team is coached by Jimmy Middlebrook and Jacee’s father, Tye Hamlin, is also an assistant coach for the Impact Gold travel ball team.
On Saturday night, Dena passed away in her sleep and quickly the expressions of love and appreciation poured in. Dena was 57-years-old and leaves behind her husband and two daughters, Jacee and oldest daughter Taylor.
Coach Middlebrook, like many who knew Dena, were in tears over the weekend.
“She was the greatest Team Mom in softball,” he said today. “Dena loved watching Impact Gold softball and always took care of the players and coaches. She kept our books and I cried yesterday when I didn’t have anybody to hand the line-up cards to. This is a devastating loss for our team, and she will be truly missed.”
Both of the Hamlin daughters played at The Colony (Texas) High and were close to the Cedric and Deana Coleman family, parents of Jayda Coleman, the 2020 grad headed to Oklahoma who was named as the 2019-20 Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year two weeks ago.
Jayda's close friend, Jacee, was a three-time All-State honoree as a catcher and captured a state title as a freshman (2017) while helping the team finish second in 2019. She is a prolific power-hitter who has led her high school team in RBIs as well as steals and looks to play the outfield for the Red Raiders.
The Hamlin and Coleman families have been close for over a decade; Deana Coleman is the head coach at The Colony and knows the family well on and off the field.
“Dena’s oldest daughter Taylor played with my oldest daughter Ashlee at The Colony,” Deana Coleman begins, “so Jacee and Jayda would be at the games together and that’s how they met. Running around and playing at all the games at 3- years-old.”
According to close friends of the Hamlin family, the passing was totally unexpected and came with no warning. Dena had battled breast cancer but had bounced back and was thought to be in good health. She had “an awesome day” on Saturday celebrating Father’s Day early as Sunday was to be filled with softball.
Fittingly, her last Facebook post was a compliment to her husband and was posted late Saturday evening (1:31 pm) stating “Happy Father’s Day Ty! Love the way you love and take care of our girls!”
Coach Coleman continued: “I’m just crying and memories just pop in my head as we had over 16 years of memories with this family. Dena is the epitome of a mom, so kind-hearted, so dedicated to not just her family but everyone around her. If a complete stranger walked up to her and said ‘I need some help," his or her luck would turn instantly because Dena was there to help anyone and everyone anytime they needed it.”
Deanna continued with a story of when Cedric was hospitalized and Dena Hamlin supported the family.
“My husband went to the emergency room in 2009,” she remembers. “He had meningitis and was in a coma for a month… just a horrible situation. Dena and Tye took in Jayda without even blinking. Dena immediately called me and said, ‘We got Jayda, you take care of Ced and you don’t worry about anything.’”
“Tye and Dena took Jayda to school every day, fed her, and Dena used to joke with me about having to talk Jayda and Jacee both into doing their homework; they just wanted to play sports outside in the yard. They were closer than I can even explain so Dena was Jayda’s other mom and I was Jacee’s other mom.”
“I remember Jacee and Jayda were so mad at Dena and me both at one point because they had told some people at the ballpark that they were sisters. They overheard us saying ‘No, they are not sisters, that’s her mom and I’m her mom’ and they were crying and mad at us as we were trying to explain how they weren’t sisters. Finally, Dena and I said sorry, ‘We are wrong, y’all are sisters!’”
"How can you explain in words what kind of person that is and what she and her family mean to our family! This was all after her having just got over her own battle with breast cancer. Dena just never stop giving and helping people no matter the situation or timing. Just an angel on earth. Tears are just rolling down my cheeks as I think about what Dena, Tye, Taylor and Jacee mean to our family.”
The families were so close, they each participated last fall in the both girls’ college signings.
“When Jayda was signing her national Letter of Intent, of course it was with Jacee,” Deana adds. “It was just me, Tye, Dena, Cedric, Jacee and Jayda when the official paper was signed. In the signing for the school celebration when they said, ‘OK, family only for the pictures’ of course Tye, Dena, Jacee were in the picture and we were in Jacee’s pic. Just years and years of everything those two doing everything together like sisters and Tye and Dena, me and Cedric at every celebration as one family.”
RIP Dena Hamlin!!! You are loved by so many. The softball world hurts for your family at this time. May you Rest In Peace and we will always save you a seat at the ball park because I know you will always be there!!! pic.twitter.com/2LACKGORwu
RIP Dena Hamlin!!! You are loved by so many. The softball world hurts for your family at this time. May you Rest In Peace and we will always save you a seat at the ball park because I know you will always be there!!! pic.twitter.com/2LACKGORwu— deanacoleman (@TCHSPE) June 21, 2020
A very special Someone was taken from me today. Dena Hamlin was not not my mom by blood but my mom by heart. She loved me like I was one of her own. God may she Rest In Peace🙏🏽I will forever love & cherish you. You will always be my mommy in my heart. I love you❤️
A very special Someone was taken from me today. Dena Hamlin was not not my mom by blood but my mom by heart. She loved me like I was one of her own. God may she Rest In Peace🙏🏽I will forever love & cherish you. You will always be my mommy in my heart. I love you❤️— Jayda Coleman (@jaydac00) June 21, 2020
The Impact organization put together a video tribute to Dena and her family; we at Extra Inning Softball also extend our condolences, prayers and well wishes for the Hamlin family and all those that knew and loved them: