Pictured are left to right Front Row: Former offensive guard Dave Samarzich, Retired Head Coach Dick Salter, Former Apache and 2007 NFL Hall Of Famer Bruce Matthews, Former Offensive line coach Paul Weinberger. Top row: Former Offensive Coordinator Doug Smith, Retired Defensive Line Coach Bob DiGiacomo, Retired Backs and Receivers Coach Dave Boulware.
Above left to right: Robert Fasching, Doug Smith, Al Hamichart at Bruce Matthews golf tournament last summer.
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
The San Gabriel Valley recently lost a true legend in the coaching field.
Doug Smith, who meant so much to so many people in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, was found dead at his home in Glendora on Friday of an apparent massive heart attack.
He was 68.
As track and field coach at Arcadia High School, Smith built one of the top programs in Southern California and was one of the founders of the Arcadia Invitational track and field meet, which will run Friday and Saturday.
“It’s one of those stories about life that you just can’t make up,” said Doug Speck, who taught at Arcadia from 1976-2007. “The Invitational is the biggest high school activity in the United States, as far as the number of schools attending, that’s run by a single high school.”
This year, the meet will host close to 500 schools.
Smith’s organizational skills were so renowned he was given the title of Competition Facilities Coordinator for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
“Basically, he ran the Coliseum during the ’84 Olympics,” Speck said. “To come to a high school coach to ask them to run the Olympics, that’s the pinnacle.”
Smith also was a long-time assistant football coach for Dick Salter and later served as an assistant for Tom Salter at Bishop Amat and Tim Salter at Upland.
“He came in right out of Redlands College as an assistant football coach and track coach,” Dick Salter recalled. “He was very big in track and was a very good football coach.
“He was my right-hand man for many years.”
Salter remembers sitting down with Smith going over game film and putting together strategies for the next game.
More importantly, he recalls the friendship they shared.
“He was a great friend and very loyal,” Salter said. “He would do anything to help the program and could work with individuals very well, which I think he got from track.
“He had a knack for building a kid’s confidence and making him work hard.”
Former Muir head football coach and girls track and field coach Jim Brownfield had fond memories of his battles with Smith.
“He was one helluva track coach,” Brownfield said. “I always considered him one of the best high school coaches in the country, and he had Arcadia up there with the big boys every year and he was special and had a nice touch.
“They gave us all we wanted, thank you.”
Smith’s daughter, Lisa, lived with her mother for much of her life, but still remained close with her father.
“I always kept in contact with my dad and we saw each other yearly, and every time I came out to visit, he always wanted to show me places and do things,” said Smith, who flew into town Sunday from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada to begin making funeral arrangements. “For me, he was very thoughtful and quiet, and was always there.”
Former Apache Dave Samarzich was one of four players spanning four decades who spoke at Smith’s retirement along with Chris Rix, Brad Beddell and Tommy Greep.
Samarzich said he felt he, and many others, learned a lot from Smith.
“Doug Smith was more than a coach and taught us more than just football,” Samarzich said. “He was a mentor and a father figure and meant so much to so many and he’ll be sorely missed.”
Funeral services will be held at Forrest Lawn in Hollywood Hills at the Church of the Hills on Friday at 9:30 a.m.