PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire County girls basketball family Saturday recognized some great Berkshire County girls basketball families.
The 10th class of the county girls basketball Hall of Fame included not one but two parent-child combinations among the nine inductees.
"My family is famous today," Brett Steinman quipped.
Steinman presented both his wife, 1987 St. Joseph Central High School alumna Shannon Blake Steinman, and their daughter, 2017 Pittsfield High grad Peyton Steinman.
They were joined by Leonard Miller, a girls basketball coach at Lenox and PHS, and his daughter, Cathleen Miller Davenport, part of three-time state finalist squads at Monument Mountain.
The Hall, which was started in 2013, inducted one other coach on Saturday, Wahconah's Jim Duquette, along with players Stephanie Young Kerr (Lee), Nicole LaFave Patella (Lenox) and Sara Hamilton (Wahconah).
The ninth inductee was one of the co-founders of the Hall of Fame and a member of its board of directors, Karen MacHaffie, a longtime organizer of youth leagues and AAU squads in Pittsfield and booster club member at Taconic High School.
MacHaffie self-deprecatingly called herself a "behind the scenes person" in accepting the honor.
Her daughter Lisa, in presenting MacHaffie, talked about mountains of paperwork associated with running leagues strewn about the family's home and countless hours spent by her mom to keep things organized.
Machaffie said it was all worth it whenever she got to see a youngster sink their first basket.
"I'm so proud of all of them," she said. "My father told me: What you give of yourself, you get back 1,000 times in return. Boy, was he right."
In some way, basketball was a dominant influence in the families of all the Hall inductees.
Jackie McLaughlin, representing her dad at Saturday's ceremony, talked about the game's importance in the Duquette household.
"His coaching truly became a family affair for us," McLaughlin said of Jim Duquette, who died in 2002. "On game nights, the seven of us, with five kids ranging in ages from 1 to 12, had to eat dinner in complete silence, so my dad could concentrate on strategy for that night's game. When we spoke, we either got a look from him or a kick in the leg from my mother. He was intense."
Duquette's coaching legacy lives on in his son Patrick, now a Division I men's college basketball coach at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
"Being around those teams at that young age solidified my family's love for the game of basketball," McLaughlin said. "My brother Pat … told me, 'Those years laid the seeds for my career as a coach. Watching our dad influence those girls was inspiring.' "
Ellie Sorrentino Rizzo talked about how Patella, an all-Berkshire County player at Lenox Memorial, continues to inspire future generations of student-athletes.
"Over the last 20 years or so, I've had the honor to watch her do what she does best, coach," Rizzo said. "Nicole's dedication on and off the court is something we all learn from every day.
"She shows us what being 100 percent committed looks like. Having been coached by both her and her father [2014 inductee] Fred LaFave, it's obvious where she gets this passion."
Peyton Steinman, who scored 1,725 points at Pittsfield High and went on to star at Division II St. Anselm College, got some measure of her passion from her mom, a Western Mass champion at St. Joe.
"I watched Shannon play in high school because I was a year ahead of her at St. Joe," Brett Steinman said. "There were some good St. Joe's teams in the mid-'80s. … Shannon was a big part of that.
"She was kind of a student of the game. She was a workaholic. She just got basketball, and she knew where players needed to be on the floor and how to get them the ball. She was kind of like a shooting guard/point guard, what now we'd call a combo guard. Whatever was needed, she would do."
Few athletes did more at sports-crazy Wahconah than Hamilton, winner of 12 varsity letters, captain on three teams and winner of seven Western Mass Championships and a State Championship.
Coach Pat West presented Hamilton on Saturday, calling to mind one of her coaches, the school's legendary mentor Boog Powell, a member of the Hall of Fame's inaugural class.
"I remember him saying to me in 2008 when I was up on the soccer field, 'We're going to win a lot of games with Sara Hamilton in the middle of everything," West said.
West went on to pay Hamilton high praise of his own.
"This is the 46th year I've coached one sport or another," West said. "And I can say without reservation she is the best athlete I've ever been involved with."
Lenny Miller was involved with hundreds of boys and girls basketball players during his time on the sidelines, and he was particularly honored Saturday to be celebrated along with one of his favorites, Cathleen, who went on to score 1,149 points at Williams College.
Miller was quick to note that coaches like himself do not get into a Hall of Fame on their own.
"I consider being inducted into a Hall of Fame to be a team award," Miller said. "I was so fortunate and blessed to have coached five very special girls basketball teams. I want to thank all those players and the coaches on those teams for all their hard work, sacrifice and commitment.
"During my first three years at Lenox, I had a core of exceptional girls basketball players. … My last year at Lenox, we weren't expected to do very well. We had lost all of our stars except for [2020 inductee] Kelly LaChance. But because our young players improved so much and worked so hard, we ended up tying for the Southern Division and ended up in the finals of the Western Mass tournament. We lost in overtime, but it was such a successful and rewarding season for me."
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