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JWU Athletics Remembers Legendary North Carolina Basketball Coach Dean Smith

Source: University of North Carolina Sports Information Department
Source: University of North Carolina Sports Information Department

Charlotte, NC -- This week, the passing of former University of North Carolina Basketball Coach Dean Smith has triggered reflections on the coach's many contributions to college basketball and college athletics in general.  The Johnson & Wales University -- Charlotte Athletics Staff offers its sincere condolences to the Dean Smith family and the University of North Carolina at this time.  In keeping with the other memorials on various outlets, various staff members offer their memories of and tributes to Dean Smith:

Stephen Byrd, JWU Director of Athletics

"As someone who grew up in the state of NC and eventually attended UNC, I certainly have an immense appreciation for the impact of Dean Smith's contributions and the many areas in which those contributions could be felt.  While most athletic programs will never come close to achieving what he helped to build, we most certainly can all remember how important it is to truly mentor students and to make a positive impact on our campus communities."

Chuck Charles, JWU Assistant Director of Athletics

"It’s crazy to think that in today’s world of college players leaving after only one year, Dean Smith coached for a time when freshmen weren’t even eligible to play. Even then, he was ahead of his time. His list of basketball innovations is too long to name, and his success on the court is matched by only a select few, but Coach Smith was so much more than a basketball coach. He was one of the best people to ever walk this earth. He worked to integrate basketball in the ACC and restaurants in Chapel Hill. He was a father figure to former players, managers, and coaches. They sought out his counsel on important life decisions, basketball related or not. His memory and attention to detail were renowned.  He did all of this while shunning attention, instead preferring it be directed towards his players. I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet him in person, but one of the highlights of my youth growing up as a North Carolina fan was calling into his radio show, and after asking him a question, he replied to me that I made a great point that he hadn’t thought of before."

Callie Phillips, JWU Head Women's Volleyball Coach

"As a native North Carolinian, I was raised on Carolina Basketball.  Some of my first memories are watching those games with my parents.  My first head coaching job was as a high school junior varsity basketball coach, and I set out to implement as many elements of Dean Smith as I could in my program.  Years later, I look back on all of those games I saw and realize that I was never solely watching the star players or the spectacular plays.   I was always watching Dean Smith and his way of leading his team (exactly the opposite of what he would have wanted).  Now that I have realized my dream of coaching at the college level, I still work to apply as many Coach Smith principles in my program as I can.  I will always cherish those experiences of watching him work, and I strive every day to be better because of them.  At 15 years old, I was able to attend the wedding of one of his former players and met Coach Smith.  Many times, celebrities disappoint us when we meet them in person, but Dean Smith was so gracious in talking to an awkward, dumbfounded kid, and he made me feel like I was the most important thing in the world to him for those moments.  He truly is my role model for the way I carry myself as a coach, a mentor, a friend, and a human being."

Jim Casciano, JWU Head Men's Basketball Coach

"I had the privilege of knowing Coach Smith and in all of my dealings with Coach, he treated me as though I was a member of the Carolina family. I found Coach Smith to be a humble and caring person, and with his passing I feel like I have lost a member of my own family."

John Jordan, JWU Head Women's Basketball Coach

"I grew up in the Triangle and was raised on Big Four (UNC, NC State, Duke and Wake Forest) ACC basketball.  College basketball was everything in North Carolina; it was by far the major spectator sport, and the king of that sport was Dean Smith. As a child, we got out of school for ACC Friday, and the Thursday games would be televised in our classrooms. As a kid learning the game, the coach you learned the most about was always Dean Smith, partly because he was a constant. The other schools would change coaches back then, but not Carolina. Coach Smith was always there, and because of that he became the coach most imitated in the region.  All of my YMCA, junior high and high school coaches ran his offenses and defenses. They were my influences, and even now I run several things with my college women’s team that originally were his ideas. In addition to his on court success, he was a man willing to use his position to make statements on social change as illustrated by him signing the first African-American player at UNC, Charlie Scott. He also spoke out on other issues of the time. I remember this really made a mark on me in the sense that a basketball coach could use his position to try and affect change.   As I got older and went into pro and college ball, I had the opportunity to meet and even work with several of Coach Smith’s former players and coaches. Coach Smith instituted a strong sense of family in his program, and this loyalty was very evident in these individuals. Not once did I hear one negative thing said by a former player or staff about this man. That is in itself a tremendous legacy. He exhibited a true concern about his team on the personal level that resonated from his star players all the way to his team managers. Perhaps the greatest measure of a man’s impact on this world is the influence he had had on those he has come in contact with or been able to touch by his example while on this planet. Coach Smith’s contribution and legacy will continue to be spread for decades to come by those athletes he so faithfully served and those coaches who have studied his approach and emulate his philosophy. In that sense, Dean Smith will live on forever." 

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