"North Carolina coaching great Dean Smith dies at 83"

Dean Smith
While many Tar Heels have expected this news for quite awhile, it still gives one reason to pause when it comes.

I can't remember a time when I didn't know about Dean Smith. He arrived in Chapel Hill in 1958, when I was 5. My mom - a former sports writer turned society page reporter (deemed acceptable for female journalists in the 1950s) - never lost her zeal for her alma mater and UNC sports. My dad, who often was "at sea" with the Navy, was just as true blue to Carolina. And so, I learned to cry "go to hell Dook" long before I understood what it meant! (At this point, my Southern manners require me to apologize to my Duke pals, tho I swear no ABC-er has ever apologized to me! Alas, I digress.)

And so it was that I carried on the family tradition as the first Maynard child to head to college. While at St. Mary's in Raleigh, I made a collect call to Dean Smith each time I arrived back in my dorm room following a visit home. If course, he never was there to accept the call! One Sunday night upon making that call, the operator asked, "Who?" When I repeated the name, she said, "Yeah, sure." But she put through the call.

Next stop was Chapel Hill and I've long bragged I never missed a home football or basketball game my senior year. That explains my final GPA!

It was tough being a Carolina fan while living in Frederick, Md, in the heart of Terp country in the 1980s, but when a 3-1/2 month-old Jen and I watched the Heels beat Georgetown on that memorable night in 1982, it was worth all the ragging! We repeated in 1993 against Michigan, knowing my mom, who died 2 years earlier, was smiling down from heaven.

Jen, nephew Joey, and I headed to Chapel Hill in April 2009 for that glorious win against Michigan State, and while Smith was no longer coaching, his spirit was there.

RIP, Coach Dean Smith. Your life was not all about wins and losses, for your influence on your players and those who knew and loved and respected you was far greater.

"Hark the sound of Tar Heel voices, ringing clear and true. Singing Carolina praises. Shouting NCU."


(Photo from ncaa.com)