Sorry it’s been a while since I checked in. Sue and I have been doing some awesome work on the new The F.I.T. Files book! So that’s great!
One thing that happened recently that wasn’t great was the loss of an awesome basketball coach. Dean Smith, the former head coach of The University of North Carolina Tar Heels, passed away. We were away for a few days when it happened, and things have been super busy catching up on schoolwork and stuff.
My parents were kind of devastated, as was everyone else around Chapel Hill. See, he wasn’t just an amazing coach, he was innovative and inspired his players to be really good people – not just players.
Just check out this video about Dean Smith
There are a bunch of tribute videos (just search ‘Dean Smith legacy’ and you’ll see what I mean), and I can see why everyone loved him so much. I heard he was super modest (he didn’t even want the Dean E. Smith Center, affectionately called the Dean Dome, to be named after him) and was just a super loyal, upstanding person who was always there for his players.
Here are just a few of the things he did:
When a Carolina player scored, he had him point to the player who passed him the ball. It was the ‘Carolina way’. Basketball was all about team. Watch any UNC game today – they still do that. It’s really cool.
He brought in the ‘four corners’ offence to burn down time in a game. It was so successful that they brought in the shot clock a little later!
He was a big civil rights advocate. He and his pastor took an African American divinity student to a segregated restaurant in Chapel Hill. (This was way back in the early 1960’s… Can you believe that stuff went on?!) After that, the restaurant included everyone.
He recruited Charles Scott, the first African American basketball player at a major southern university.
My folks have this old book called The Dean’s List and, even though it was written a long time ago, it’s pretty timeless. I read it and it’s really interesting.
I’m kind of fascinated by Coach Smith, because he became such an icon, but his players have some cool anecdotes about him. There’s a neat one in this article about how he even gave his players an English lesson in the correct use of the word ‘farthest’. They say he had this amazing memory, and would send hand written notes to his players, and that, even after they graduated, they never made a major decision without talking to him.
While it’s sad that Coach Smith is not with us anymore, he kind of is with us, because of his innovations, and how he inspired everyone to be better. I hope he inspires you too.