posted January 9, 2013

Football Stadium Will Carry Name of Longtime Coach Ray Smith and Wife Sue

HOLLAND -- Holland Municipal Stadium, home of Hope College football since it opened in 1979 and recently purchased from the City of Holland, will have a new name when the Flying Dutchmen open their 2013 season.

College officials have announced the stadium will be named in honor of longtime former coach Ray Smith and his wife Sue.

“Ray Smith has left a winning-with-integrity legacy in intercollegiate sport at Hope, in the MIAA, and nationally at the Division III level of the NCAA,” said Hope College President Dr. James E. Bultman. “As a coach and athletic director he inspired an exemplary athletics program and he did it the right way – with humility, fair play and wholesome balance within the spiritual, academic and social aspects of college life. He transformed intercollegiate sport at Hope while continuing the finest traditions of the college in athletics.”

Smith coached Hope football for a quarter of a century (1970-94). He is the winningest football coach in the history of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and his 25-year tenure remains the longest of any football coach in America's oldest college athletic conference.

“It is most appropriate that the stadium be named in honor of Ray and his wife Sue. No coach achieves success to this degree without an understanding and supportive spouse. Sue Smith has been this for Ray throughout his long illustrious career in sport,” added Bultman. “Together they have made a difference at Hope and in the Holland community.”

Smith was a football All-American at UCLA,  playing at both fullback and defensive back. He was captain and most valuable player of the Bruins his senior year.

“While at UCLA he was once asked by legendary coach John Wooden to be a member of the basketball team,” said Bultman. “When Ray responded that he wasn’t as talented as the othermembers of the basketball team, coach Wooden responded by saying, ‘I want you on the team because of your leadership and character.’ Though Ray declined the opportunity, his friendship with Wooden and his wife Nell continued thru their
lifetimes.”

When informed of the Board of Trustees decision, current head football coach Dean Kreps, who was Smith’s assistant for nine years, said, “this recognition is well deserved and I’m happy for both Ray and Sue. Ray’s achievements in football and his commitment to the development of the whole person through intercollegiate sport at Hope are legendary.”

A member of the Hope faculty until 2009, Smith mentored hundreds of Hope students through his work both in the classroom and on the athletic field. His football teams earned an overall record of 148-69-9, including nine MIAA championships. In 1984 he was named the NCAA Division III Co-Coach of the Year. At the time of his retirement as football coach in 1994 he was the eighth-winningest coach in NCAA Division III history. During his tenure he also served as golf coach, wrestling coach and assistant baseball coach. He was the director of athletics from 1980-2009. During that time, Hope won 24 MIAA All-Sports awards.

In 1999 he received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the West Michigan Sports Awards banquet, and in 2006 his hometown of Riverside, Calif., inducted him into its Sports Hall of Fame. Honors from Hope have included the 2002 “Vanderbush-Weller Development Fund” award in recognition of his personal integrity and the modeling of the Christian faith in his work with students, and having the weight room in the DeVos Fieldhouse named for him and his wife Sue in 2005.

Ray and Sue have been married for 51 years. 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, Rebecca and Abigail.

“Please know both Sue and I feel honored and humbled to have this magnificent football stadium named for us. Without a doubt, this athletic field is already one of the best in Division III and is a tribute to all the student-athletes and coaches who have represented Hope on the gridiron,” said Ray Smith. “Therefore, it is with utmost gratitude for all those who have gone before and who will continue in the years ahead that we receive this recognition.”

A formal recognition is tentatively planned for Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 in conjunction with the traditional Community Day home football opening game.