The Virginia Sports Hall Of Fame today announced they will be inducting former Virginia Tech Sports Information Director Dave Smith into their enclave in their class of 2024, and you’re probably going to see a lot of people on social media talk about what an incredible human being he is.
That’s because it’s true.
In my career both inside and outside media, I can’t say I’ve met a better person. Professionally proficient, loved his job, kind, friendly and possesses a semi-sick sense of humor that from the time I met him as a junior at Virginia Tech, immediately became as if he was my older brother.
For many years after, he would become the older brother to many a young Hokie.
There are now computers with databases that have captured all the key moments of Virginia Tech’s sports history, but before then the databases were the late Wendy Weisend and Dave Smith. Wendy was the older, gruff SID in the 70s and Dave was the young assistant who would one day succeed Wendy. Both had strong memories and hearts of gold.
If you had a question about anything in the history of Hokie sports, you went to one of them. They didn’t rely on stored documents, either. One of them was there.
Dave, however, knew how to smile and have fun along the journey. When Virginia Tech was invited to join what was then called the Metro-7, I sat next to Dave and Mike Finn, who would become not only the SID at N.C. State but eventually the entire Atlantic Coast Conference at the press conference to announce this. While we were waiting, Dave mentioned the importance of the day’s events, wondered how things would be 20 years later, then gave a hilarious critique of the onion rings we had at dinner the night before.
Roughly 20 years later, the rocket ship known as Virginia Tech football took off, he was by Frank Beamer’s side throughout it, and the Hokies ended up in ACC, all with Dave graciously handling the media in a manner any Hokie would be proud off.
I didn’t get to interact with him much after I left media, but whenever I would come to Blacksburg we’d get to say hello to each other, and the conversation went right back to the 70s and early 80s when we were kids ourselves. The classic story we seemed to relive over and over again involved one evening when I was frustrated with a lot of things, including the current football coach and athletic director, Bill Dooley. I had expressed to Dave a desire to have a few drinks and climb up the side of Cassell Coliseum where Dooley kept a clock in the shape of a North Carolina football helmet in his window.
My plan was to baptize that clock with something other than Holy Water.
“That may seem like a good idea right now,” Dave counseled me. “But why don’t we just go back to my place and have a few where it’s warm and you won’t get arrested.”
We did and after a few I headed to the facilities. A few seconds later there was the sound of a grown man letting out a brief scream and another grown man laughing like he’d just heard the funniest thing ever. Turns out Dave had one of those “angry gobbler” toilet seats, I didn’t turn on the lights and when I reached for it, it MIGHT have startled me.
Over 30 years later I saw Dave at a women’s softball game and after a handshake and a hug, he gives me this coy look and asks “you still afraid of toilet seats?”
Dave has been an absolute joy to know as a friend and a fellow Hokie over the course of my life, and I think anyone who has met him will say the same. I do know this: you can find people who can handle the media. You can find people who know where to find all the stories and statistics of the past.
But you’ll never find another Dave Smith.
Which is why he deservedly is now in the Hall of Fame.