KANSAS CITY, Mo.- UMKC Athletics is proud to announce a four-part series celebrating African American History during the month of February. Each individual featured is a key member of Roo athletic history and impacting the University in a lasting and positive manner. The fourth and final part in this series features former basketball star, Dave Smith. View the other individuals honored during February, CLICK HERE.
Smith played with UMKC for five seasons (1969-1973), when the Roos were members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) prior to NCAA Division I status. He was an NAIA All-District 16 first-team selection in his final season at UMKC. Smith also earned NAIA All-America honorable mention status during his senior year making him the first All-American in UMKC history.
“UMKC was a good time,” commented Smith. “It was a good opportunity for me because I got to play a lot and play different positions. I was able to develop my skills so it was a great experience. I can look back on my experiences with satisfaction and accomplishment.”
Smith was awarded the Jack Gant Outstanding Athlete Award from the UMKC Athletic Department. This award is gifted annually to the overall best student-athlete at UMKC based on the student’s athletic and academic performance. After his basketball career, he went on to have many professions where he was able to help young people and athletes. He first went on to be the UMKC assistant men’s basketball coach for eight seasons under Hall of Famer Coach Darrell Corwin.
“Coaching at UMKC was a great opportunity,” commented Smith. “It helped me start my career after college. I was primarily hired to develop a recruiting program to identify student-athletes to the university. At a young age, I was off around the country evaluating and identifying talent. I had the responsibility to help them and bring them to Kansas City so they could do well. It was quite the experience.”
After his assistant coaching career, he went on to be the Executive Director of the Kansas City YMCA. In addition, he served as the President of the Kansas City, Missouri School Board. Smith’s experiences at UMKC influenced his career choices to be geared towards helping young people.
“The assistant dean of students at the time was my mentor and while working with him I developed an interest in young people,” said Smith. “From that, I learned that coaching was a good tool to use with helping young people.”
In 1994, Smith went on to be named the President of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City. Smith retired from the Boys and Girls Club in 2018 after serving as President for nearly 25 years.
“My experiences at UMKC definitely influenced me to get involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City” commented Smith. “It was an evolution of my experiences as a coach that showed me the potential that people have if we invest in them.”
In 2015, Smith was inducted into the UMKC Hall of Fame.
“Being inducted was fun because I grew up on that campus” commented Smith. “The time I was there was so meaningful for me and certainly the athletic achievements that I had were very satisfying.”
African American History Month pays tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. This event was initially a week-long recognition in February that began in 1926. The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. For more information, CLICK HERE.