Sports

'Gentle giant' earns spot in hall of fame

"Elton Goodwin's intense battle cries in the dugout or in the coaching box on third base are trademark when attending a South Kitsap High School baseball game.But looming in the shadow is a gentle giant whose presence is equally felt by Goodwin and ball players.Assistant coach Don Smith is to Goodwin what Laurel was to Hardy, or Abbott was to Costello.Call them a duo of opposite distinctions and personalities, but Smith is just as responsible for making SK a state powerhouse year in and year out.That presence was rewarded two weeks ago when Smith was named to the Washington State Coaches Association Hall of Fame.It's an honor only two other assistant coaches have earned - Jim Hannah from Eastmont and Marty O'Brien of Ephreta.I'm flabbergasted, the 56-year-old Smith said. Such great people (are in the hall). I am taken aback by it.Smith said he was stunned the committee chose him, but he is especially baffled as to how his name got on the ballot.Elton must have been on in it, I guess, Smith said.Smith, who coached varsity in the early 1970s with Goodwin as an assistant, left SK for 10 years before coming back in 1985.Thus far Smith has compiled a 201-32 record in varsity and junior varsity games coached. Goodwin, who was inducted into the hall of fame three years ago, was the first to admit he put Smith's name on the ballot.He's so deserving of this, Goodwin said. I've put his name on the ballot the last three or four years.Goodwin said Smith earned a spot in the hall of fame because of longevity, the successful program, and Goodwin's gleaming letter to the hall's committee.Smith said awards like this are hard to take in. He'd just assume his place on the field or in the dugout coaching and mentoring kids like he has the past 30 yearsDon works endlessly, Goodwin said. He's my right-hand man. I need a guy opposite a guy like me.Yeah, we're pretty opposite, Smith said laughing. We get fired up about different things. We offset each other and that balances things out.While Goodwin creates an environment of intensity, Smith would lurk in the shadows observing everything from the opponent to the condition of the field.I tell you what, Goodwin said, I have never heard a kid talk badly about Don Smith. He is a gentle giant. When he talks to kids they listen.For Smith coaching continues to be pleasurable experience. It doesn't matter that he is officially a volunteer coach who doesn't get paid for his time.Looking back on the years, Smith said he wouldn't take anything back.I've met so many great people, he said. The players, parents, and other coaches...and being able to watch my kid grow up and play have been very rewarding.Goodwin said Don's fond memories are great but deep inside there is something deeper that stirs in the belly of the man they call Big D.He wants to win, Goodwin said. He's got such a burning desire to win.Smith doesn't deny his desire to get the Wolves back to the state title game.I never thought about getting into the hall of fame, Smith said. I always hope to get back to the state championship, though. "

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