#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#Sherman Smith was known as a no-nonsense fundamental coach who demanded the best out of the many young people whom he helped to groom in basketball, along with volleyball, soccer and track and field.
#The Carlton E Francis physical education teacher, who used the school as his base for a vibrant after-school and summer basketball camp, died on Wednesday night, about a week before he was to celebrate his 54th birthday on Thursday, April 30.
#Smith, whose forte was coaching basketball, got a chance to celebrate his final accomplishment in March when he and coach Terrance ‘Red Eye’ McSweeney combined to coach Carlton E Francis to a runner-up position in the Bahamas Scholastic Athletic Association’s basketball championships at the DW Davis Gymnasium.
#McSweeney said he assisted Smith, who had to undergo surgery from January but was postponed a few times, with his girls’ basketball team as they participated in the school’s basketball league regular season that started at the Hope Center and ended up with the postseason at the DW Davis Gymnasium.
#“The team was comprised of mostly grade three to five with just about three girls from grade six,” McSweeney said.
#“I know they are in mourning having heard the news. I know we got a few at St John’s, which I currently work out with their programme and there are some at Prince Will. The others went to government schools.”
#McSweeney, who got to know Smith for more than 15 years in the basketball coaching fraternity, said Smith started out with the after-school programme at Carlton E Francis. He approached the Ministry of Education about becoming a full time physical education teacher and was awarded the position.
#Over the years, according to McSweeney, a number of schools benefitted from players from his primary school boys and girls basketball teams coming to their schools, although Carlton E Francis was a feeder system for SC McPherson and CV Bethel Secondary High.
#“Many schools, both private and public were the beneficiaries of his student-athletes because he was not just a coach, but a father figure to a lot of the boys who came from a single parent home and a lot of the girls, who also came from single parent homes.
#“He was a mentor, who went overboard in assisting a lot of his students with getting school stuff and even lunch when they came to school. He did a lot of stuff and even got a lot of them to travel to some of the basketball tournaments in the Family Islands when they didn’t have the funding.”
#McSweeney remembered Smith’s aggressiveness in pushing his players to their maximum potential, but more so for allowing him to step in and work with him without any reservations.
#“Coach Smith was very unique to know because a lot of coaches don’t accept you coming in and taking over their prrogramme, or even just training their team for a tournament. Everybody just wants to do it themselves,”he said.
#“But he never showed any reservation about me coming in and taking over his programme or the girls would be more inclined to play for me. I think over the years, that was why he would have asked me from time to time to come in and work with his girls while he concentrated on the boys.”
#McSweeney and Smith never got the opportunity to coach against each other, but they developed a good working relationship together for the betterment of girls’ basketball in the country.
#Although he wasn’t a part of the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association, which caters to junior and senor high schools, president Varel Davis said Smith still played an integral part as a supporter in the stands.
#“He was an excellent basketball coach who helped to develop some of the top boys and girls in the country today,” Davis said. “He came down and supported our games in the GSSSA as much as he could. He was always in the gym at our games. “He was a very helpful person, but he was also a very excellent basketball coach. He was one of the best that they had in the primary schools in the country. I always told him I wished I had some of the players he groomed. He will be surely missed.”
#Smith, whose wife predeceased him in 2017, left to mourn four children and a host of student-athletes whom he helped to groom and nurture as if they were his own.