posted December 22, 2009

Athletics Director Ray Smith Announces Intention to Retire

Longtime Hope College coach and athletic administrator Ray Smith has announced he will retire at the end of the current school year.

The winningest football coach in the history of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), Smith, 70, has spent four decades teaching and coaching and is presently is professor of kinesiology and director of athletics for men. 

Smith came to Hope in 1970 and was football coach for 25 seasons (1970-94). He has also coached wrestling, golf and baseball. He has been director of athletics for men at since 1980. During that 29-year span, Hope has won the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Commissioners Cup award for having the best cumulative performance by its athletic teams a record 23 times.

He holds the all-time record as the longest-serving and winningest head football coach in MIAA history.  His football teams posted an overall record of 148-69-9, including nine conference championships. The 1984 team finished 9-0, the only perfect season in the college's 99-year football history.

He was named the NCAA Division III co-coach of the year by "Football News" in 1984  and in 1999 received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the annual West Michigan Sports Awards banquet.

In 2002, he was named co-recipient of the college's Vanderbush-Weller Award in recognition of his personal integrity and the modeling of his Christian faith in his work with students.

In 2005, Hope named the weight training facility in college's new DeVos Fieldhouse in honor of Smith and his wife Sue for their decades-long service to Hope and the Holland community.

He is listed in the National Football College Hall of Fame, and has been honored by the State of California for outstanding and exceptional work with youth.

In 2006 he was inducted into the Riverside, Calif. Sports Hall of Fame.  Smith's family moved to Riverside from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota when he was eight months old.  An outstanding three-sport athlete in high school, he went on to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on a full scholarship.

At UCLA he lettered in baseball and in football.  His football honors were numerous, including team captain, outstanding senior player, honorable mention All-American and UCLA Athlete of the Year.  He played in the East-West Shrine Game and the Hula Bowl.

After college he spent three seasons playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, which he chose over the NFL so he would not have to play on Sundays, before retiring in 1962 because of an injury.  Immediately prior to coming to Hope, he was head football and baseball coach at Antelope Valley College in California.

In addition to the bachelor's degree from UCLA, Smith holds master's degrees from Pasadena College and Western Michigan University.

He also serves as the college's admissions liaison to the Reformed Church in America.

Throughout the years Ray and his wife Sue have been involved in the Young Life ministry, active in their church and highly invested with students.  He was a longtime member of the Leisure & Cultural Service Advisory Commission of the City of Holland.

Ray and Sue Smith have been married for 48 years, and their family consists of a son Randy and his wife Chris, and their children Brianna and Chandler; a son Jeff; and a daughter Jennifer and her husband Brian, and their children Hezekiah and Rebecca.