BEAR RIVER HIGH - By Cari Doutre and Addy Doutre - December 8, 2021
The first base line on the softball field for the Bear River High softball team will never be the same again.
On Sunday, December 6, 2021, the Bear River Valley community learned the sad news that Stan Haramoto, the legendary softball coach at Bear River High, passed away at the age of 71 from COVID-19.
For nearly three decades, Stan “The Man” Haramoto was an assistant coach for the Bear River High softball team. As the team’s go-to first base coach, Stan helped bring 10 state championship titles to the school – a record only one other high school in Utah shares.
But Stan was more than just a coach and his contributions to the school’s softball program went way beyond wins, state titles and records.
On the softball field Stan was a friend to all bringing his positivity and sense of humor to not only to the coaching staff but to the hundreds of high school softball players he coached during his 29 years with the program.
“At the end of every practice, he always made sure that we knew that we all had greatness in us and reminded us of the importance of hard work. He gave us wisdom for on and off the field. He was involved in our lives and cared about more than just our softball career. He would ask us how school was going and how our families were doing. He was selfless and he will be immensely missed,” said Kodi Gibbs, Bear River High Class of 2019.
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“I will always remember Stan’s love for the game but more importantly his love for us girls. He was our biggest fan,” added Carlee Miller, a senior at Bear River High.
Stan was also willing to go the extra mile for any of his players, at no expense.
“Stan was always willing to give extra help to the girls that were struggling. He would spend as much time as it took to make them better, even at the expense of my arm,” said Troy Haramoto, an assistant coach for the Bear River High softball team and Stan’s nephew.
Coaching side-by-side for many years, the two men had a similar philosophy when it came to strategy and coaching softball. Troy is also grateful for the things he learned from his Uncle Stan throughout the years on the softball field.
“I think the biggest thing he taught me was patience,” Troy said.
Stan was also always up for a foot race with the girls on the team. And was surprisingly fast too!
“Coach Stan has been and always will be an influential coach in the softball program. I will always remember him running down the first base line with a player during a close play or challenging players to a foot race. I’m grateful I had the chance to be coached by ‘Stan the Man.’ He has forever marked all the hearts of every Bear River High School softball player,” said Jordan Theurer, Bear River High Class of 2013.
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While Stan may have been small in stature, he was larger than life to the athletes he coached. His ability to stay calm under pressure and to put others at ease was exactly what many of those young athletes needed at the time.
“Something I remember most about him is the calming presence he brought to the game for me. He helped keep your mind at ease even during the big games or big moments. As players I think we naturally strive for those big hits. The doubles and triples or even home runs if we are lucky. But Stan made you want to hang out at first base for a while,” said Kelli (Smart) McClellan, Bear River High Class of 2011.
“Stan was an amazing coach. He encouraged all of us girls constantly and helped us to become amazing athletes,” said Haylee “Bob” Farnsworth, a senior at Bear River High.
“He loved softball and coaching so much and would do anything to help us girls out. He knew that each and every one of us had the potential to be amazing and he constantly drove us to become better in every way possible,” she added.
His presence on the field was a staple to Bear River High softball among the softball community state-wide as he was extremely well-respected and well-liked by others – even by the competition.
Van Park, Bear River High’s Athletic Director, has had many different roles throughout the 27 years he’s been at the school.
“I have dealt with Stan as a fellow coach, as a parent of a daughter who played for him and as an athletic director. In all three instances he is the same. He is of the highest integrity and character. He loved the game of softball, he loved the girls that play softball and he loved his coaching staff,” Park said.
“He never makes excuses and works as hard as he possibly can. Stan always shows gratitude like no one I have ever met and not just to me as an athletic director but to his fellow coaches, to the administration and especially to the girls that he coaches,” Park added.
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Stan was also known for his sense of humor and ability to make softball fun at practice and at games.
“My favorite memory of him is his language. He would tell us in the outfield when we missed a ball or had a bad at bat that it was ‘tough toenails’ or ‘cold pizza’ and that we needed to just forget and move on. It immediately would make us all laugh and forget about what we had messed up on and just go back to enjoying being at practice. He was a true jokester, and it was so fun being around him,” said Olivia Taylor, Bear River High Class of 2021.
It wasn’t just the softball field that Stan earned state championship titles. In 1966 as a sophomore at Bear River High, he helped the school’s wrestling team bring home their first team state championship title. Two years later in 1968 as a senior, Stan took home an individual high school state wrestling championship title in the 98-pound weight division.
But all of Stan’s success, including his impressive individual state wrestling title, none of it went to his head. He never bragged about it either. Not even when provoked by a certain local reporter to get Stan to brag about himself, he never would.
“Stan’s contributions to Bear River softball through the years is immeasurable,” said Yale King, a long-time friend. “His good influence reached beyond athletics and into the workplace. He was always an uplifting friend and co-worker.”
His influence on those he coached over the years will be far-reaching for many generations of softball players to come.
“He was always pushing us to be the softball players that he knew we could be, even when we might not have believed in ourselves. He always had wise words and a big smile that made everyone feel inspired. He made everyone feel like they belonged and that he cared about them, more than just on the softball field. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to be coached by him. His presence and endless positivity are something I will never forget,” said Kapri Toone, Bear River High Class of 2018.
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Stan's contributions to the school’s softball program and community over the years will never be forgotten.
“Stan was an amazing guy and did so much for the Bear River softball community. His love and excitement for the game is something I will never forget. I am grateful for everything he gave to the program. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten,” said Morgan (Summers) Smith, Bear River High Class of 2012.
When the 2022 Bear River High softball team returns to the field next spring, Stan’s presence will be greatly missed. That won’t stop the returning players from honoring their great coach according to Haylee “Bob” Farnsworth.
“Stanley, you will be missed. We love you and we will continue to play with our whole hearts just like you taught us. Our 2022 season is for you,” she said.
The program will never be the same again. Not without Coach Stan Haramoto.
“He was a one-of-a-kind coach that can never be replaced,” added Troy.
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Find Stan’s full obituary on the link below.
Publisher's note: BRVNEWS.com reached out to current and former Bear River High softball players, throughout the years to share their thoughts and memories on their beloved Coach Stan. Find those below. If any of Coach Stan’s softball players over the last 20 years would like to add their thoughts and memories, please text them (along with your name and graduation year) to Cari Doutre at (435) 279-0553 or email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
“One memory I have of Stan was he was always finding a way to make people laugh. One practice we had Troy throwing BP and Stan wanted to show us all up so he had Troy pitch to him so he could try and hit it over the fence. He came close but eventually settled for a base hit deep in the outfield. He always had the best relationship with the other coaches and players, and it made it easy to talk with him. After we won state, I came and returned my uniforms for the last time (I was a senior) and Stan and I sat and talked about anything and everything for almost an hour. We leaned against the net in the bear center and talked about state, different memories throughout my high school career, other sport memories with his daughters and even some memories of my mom too and life. I loved to listen to him tell stories. He always found a way to turn it into a lesson about the moment and the joy that he would never forget. He knew the big picture. Before COVID my junior year, he talked to me about how you never truly know when anything will be your last. I have so many memories of one of my favorite coaches. I’m grateful for all the time I was blessed to have with him. I’m going to miss him so much.” - Cami Gibbs, Bear River High Class of 2021
“Stan was there in the dugout for my very first at bat of competitive softball when I was 10 years old and was there when I took my last swing my senior year of high school. He was the first person who told me I had the potential to be great and worked to help me get there. Stan was a very supportive coach and truly cared about the players. A coach whose spirit on the team can never be replaced. He made softball fun but also had so much wisdom to learn from. Stan will be missed by every player he coached, past and present.” - Whitnie Burton, Bear River High Class of 2019
“Stan always made me happy. Regardless of the outcome he was always one of the very first to tell me how well I had played. I joked with him every day that he would get a ticket while driving Greg (the tractor used for grooming the field) like a NASCAR, but we all knew that they could not give him a ticket because his feet could barely reach the pedals. I will always remember Stan for his funny dad jokes, sitting on the bucket with his contagious smile and enjoying a Diet Coke. His love of softball and his carefree attitude helped us stay loose and confident and was instrumental in helping us win our state championship game. Stan has had an everlasting impact on me as a softball player and most importantly me as a person. He will be greatly missed. The world and Bear River High softball are better because of Stan.” - Kate Dahle, Bear River High Class of 2023
“Stan was an amazing guy. He was always smiling and joking around and made softball practice truly enjoyable. I think my favorite part about him is how he always wanted the best for everyone. The softball community lost a really good one and we are all going to miss him so much.” - Mercedes (Call) Eichenlberger, Bear River High Class of 2018
“Stan Haramoto is the coolest person I’ve ever met. He was the coach who taught me how to catch at the Deweyville field when I was first starting. He was the coach at open gyms who made softball fun all growing up with his pranks and made me look forward to high school ball so much. He was the coach that believed in me as a freshman and right before my first ever varsity at bat in the region championship, he told me to hit a homerun, so I did, thanks to him.
He was the coach who came to my college softball signing and wished me the best. Stan has been my mentor in life since I first threw a ball. There isn’t a funnier guy out there who could make 20 cranky girls smile. He wasn’t afraid to lay down the law, but he had the biggest heart. He pushed me as well as encouraged me to succeed in my field and is the reason I’m where I am today. Not only in softball but in life. Since I never grew up with one, I have always considered Stan my grandpa because he was the sweet man that I knew all my life. He practically raised me and he made sure to come to my softball games. I’ll sure miss Stan the Man.” - Kati Gibbs, Bear River High Class of 2020
“Stan has been one of my favorite coaches. He was one of the most knowledgeable men I’ve ever met. Stan knew the capabilities of all of his players and pushed us until we exceeded our limits. Stan wasn’t just a coach, but he was a friend to all the players. He made us laugh just about any time we saw him. This past season the softball team got a little tractor for dragging the field. Stan adopted that tractor and wouldn’t let anybody else use it. We called the two of them Stan and Greg! Every time Stan drove it, we would just laugh about how much he loved it and how cute he looked on it. Bear River High softball will not be the same without Stan. We love him and he will definitely be missed.” - Kortnie Burton, Bear River High Class of 2021