While at SHS, Steve Smith was a three-sport athlete – earning varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball. After graduating, he worked at Ohio Steel Tube until March 1966 when he joined the Navy. His service included duty with the Sea Bees in Vietnam. Afterward, he returned to Ohio Steel Tube.
On deciding that he wanted to coach and teach, Steve began taking classes at the Mansfield branch of Ohio State University. Later, with his wife and two young sons, he headed west to study and play basketball at Northern Arizona University where he earned his bachelor’s degree. Later, he earned his master’s at Bowling Green State University.
His teaching and coaching career began at Sandusky Perkins High School where he taught English and worked as an assistant basketball and football coach. A year later, he moved to Old Fort High School where he taught English and physical education and became the head basketball coach. Four years later, he moved to Orrville High School where established the Occupational Work Experience (OWE) program and served as head basketball coach. In his OWE work, he touched the lives of many at-risk students and took as much pride in working with those young people as he did his coaching.
Steve coached for 25 years at Old Fort High School and at Orrville High School where his teams won state championships in 1992, 1995 and 1996. He was inducted into the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame with a record of 513 wins and 168 losses. Among his honors was the Clem Caraboolad Coach of the Year award given annually by the Akron Beacon Journal to coaches who have made an impact working with youngsters.
A fellow alum observes that “Steve Smith took risks. He packed his wife and little children into a station wagon and drove to Arizona with the hopes of maybe getting a chance to put himself through college by playing basketball at Northern Arizona. Steve started on West Tucker Avenue, married young, started a family, worked in the mills, decided to reach for the stars and he made it.”
Adds another alum, “Steve touched so many young lives and always helped them believe in themselves. He was a real champion for the ‘underdog.’ His students and basketball players always came back to visit, thank him and tell him what he did for them and how he influenced their lives. Steve did it because he loved these kids. He loved people.”
Steve died from cancer on March 20, 2005. He left behind the former Donna Perry, a 1964 SHS graduate, sons Steve Jr. and Rocky and grandsons Alexander, Luke and Steven.
Nominators: Steve Maier ’67 who lives in Arizona; Terri Perry ’73 who lives in Mansfield; Allan ’76 & Sheila Smith ’73 Biglin who live in Shelby; Larry ’70 & Jackie Smith; Mike Johnson ’63 who lives in North Canton.