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Legendary Coach Sam Smith received a long awaited honor after 36 years of changing countless youth lives on May 6. The Whites Creek Comprehensive High School track (and football field) was named after Coach Smith. It was a beautiful sunny day. Positive emotions ran high as many of his athletes came from near and far to share the momentum with their mentor or ‘Track Daddy.’
Coach Catherine Miller Bowers and her team orchestrated the phenomenal chain of events. Nashville’s Mayor Megan Barry was on hand to congratulate the living legend, along with other dignitaries.
The bleachers filled slowly, but in the end it was standing room only for the dedication and naming ceremony. After a prayer led by Coach Bowers for the honoree and his Continental T-Belle alumni (Continental T-Belles Track & Field Club), the music began. A heartfelt parade for the coach (accompanied by his historic T-Belles) marched proudly down the field with the Whites Creek High School Band playing ceremoniously. With his head held high, Coach Smith balanced the form of his legend graciously as the crowd stood, cheered, screamed cried and waved. The Junior Officers Training Corps (J-ROTC) presented the colors and stood at parade rest in tribute. Plaques, framed tributes, artwork, and photographs were presented to Coach Smith.
There were slogan tributes by various runners, alumni and current; a stunning and soul stirring tribute rendition of ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ sung by Michele Vaughn; and remarks and special presentations, which further enhanced the ceremony.
Attendees included: City Councilmember-at-Large Erica Gilmore (also a T-Belle alumnus) and her mother, state Rep. Brenda Gilmore; state Rep. Harold Love; Councilwoman Brenda Haywood; former Councilman and Nashville NAACP President Ludye N. Wallace; Charles Robert Bone; Marcus Hampton; Anedra Henley-Logan; Marcus Jones; Michelle Harris; Loretta ‘Lo Baby Lo’ Parson; Nicole Donaldson; El Jones, Jr. (Pastor J); Adrean Gregory; Jackie Cowan Freeman; Treva Gordon; Tresa Sanders; Councilman Scott Davis; Tunisia Johnson Scott; Coach Carlton Battle; and Whites Creek High School Principle Dr. James Bailey. This list includes just a small fraction helping make the event possible. The ribbon cutting was phenomenal and was brought to life with more cheers, screams and words like “do it coach,” “you did that,” “Coach, Coach!”—proving that sometimes a minimum amount of support goes a long way.
The beautiful dedication and ceremony on the field was wrapped up in the school gym with a post reception complete with a home cooked meal and Tree’s Southern Teas.
Coach Sam Smith is a most deserving, giving man of God and the May 6 event merely scratched the surface. Although that day was the official dedication and track naming ceremony, Coach Sam Smith and his legacy continues daily in many ways. See the website and by all means, ‘like’ The Continental T-Belles Facebook page and get involved.
Visit the websites at www.facebook.com/Continental-T-Belles-Track-Field-Club and continentaltbellestrackclub.org.