Last updated: March 07. 2014 10:14AM - 2338 Views
By - klovern@civitasmedia.com - 304-235-4242

Bill Smith
Bill Smith
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On March 2, 2014, I lost not only a former teacher and basketball coach, but a lifetime friend; a real friend. Coach Bill Smith was more than a teacher and coach to me; he was a mentor. Bill had such a positive impact on my life as a teenager growing up in the small town of Delbarton, WV and throughout my life as an adult. He was a man of trustworthiness…

But most of all, I admired and respected the man Bill Smith was for taking such good care of his mother, Ruby, for all of his adult life. I never knew a man who was so caring and attentive to the needs of his mother. His dedication to her speaks volumes for his character as a human being. There is no doubt that Bill will be rewarded in Heaven. A man of compassion…
As a basketball coach, he put everything he had (physically, mentally and financially) into the sport he loved. He took care of his players. If they couldn’t afford basketball shoes or whatever expense it took to play, he would cover the cost out of his own pocket. A man of kindness…
I was a part of the first girl’s high school basketball team at Burch Hugh School from 1977-1980. It was quite different then for girls’ sports and we had two female coaches before Bill Smith took over the reins. Because of the unique coaching style he had, every team we played became rivals. The first away game I recall was at the former Sharples High School. We were losing at half-time and walked in the locker room laughing and acting like teenage girls do. Out of the blue a loud, thunder-like thump startled but quickly silenced us all. I won’t reveal the specifics, but we left with a very different attitude. A man of leadership…
We won many games, but the sweetest victory came against our biggest rival the Matewan Lady Tigers, whom we defeated to win the Class Single A Division Title. Now, for the first time in history, the Lady Bulldogs (although only three-four years in the league) had the privilege of cutting down the basketball goal nets and proudly accepting the Class A Sectional trophy at our opponent’s home court. Those early Lady Bulldog teams lead the way for what would be a successful basketball tradition for the Lady Bulldogs at Burch High School.
It was during my senior year, 1980, that Bill took our small-statured team to the Single A Regional Semi-finals, which was a big deal 30 plus years ago. We practiced (what seemed like) around the clock and thought we were prepared for any team. We played Charleston Catholic, and from my recollection, their smallest player in height was 6 feet tall. The game began as three giants honed in and surrounded my teammate, Myrtie Maynard and me. I was a point guard, standing a mere 5 feet tall. Coach Smith prepared us as if it were the game of a lifetime. He spent tireless hours scouting every team we played (watching clips of games filmed on the old Beta Recording Machines). “Listen up, ladies…if we can’t beat them with our offense, we can shut them down defensively.” Yes, he did everything to prepare us, but we lost the game.
Charleston Catholic had a 3-2 full court press, we knew we were doomed, but still played hard. He called a time out and before exiting back to mid court like whipped pups, he bent over and clapped his hands to motivate our team and said as we broke from the huddle, “hey, go out there and just play your best, stall the ball and do whatever it takes to keep them from scoring so much” and chuckled before going back to his coaching stance.
A man of perseverance…
Because of him, many players from Burch High School received scholarships and went on to become college athletes. I had two scholarship offers and he drove me to visit both campuses, using his personal time and money. There aren’t many coaches on a high school level that would put forth such an effort to see their players excel as Coach Bill Smith. He worked for his team as if he were a national scout. A man of service…
Of all the wonderful things Coach Bill Smith accomplished in this world, the most admirable of all was the love he had for his family. They meant more to him than all the basketball titles and trophies! A man of loyalty…
I saw Bill a few months ago in front of his brother, Mike’s house. At the end of our conversation, I said, “Hey, You know I love ya don’t you? “
He said, “yea, you’re my best friend and I love you too.” (he had many best friends). I’m so glad those were our parting words. I’ll see you in Heaven my dearest friend Bill and I know you’ll pull up to greet me at the pearly gates in a shiny new Datsun 280Z, modern day version and blue and silver of course! A man of integrity…
Lisa Anne Marcum
Former Advertising Manager at the Williamson Daily News

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