January 28, 2010

Frederick Remembers Beloved Student, Athlete, Marine

Frederick High School observed a moment of silence Wednesday morning after announcing that alumnus Sgt. David Smith had died the day before of injuries from an attack Saturday in Afghanistan.

Smith left his mark on the school before graduating in 2002. He wrestled, he played lacrosse, soccer and football, and he participated in school plays. His former coaches, teachers and schoolmates said they won't forget him anytime soon.

"He was one of those kids that really makes a lasting impression," said John Bodnar, Smith's former soccer coach. "It's eight years later, and I still remember things about him crystal clear."

Smith, who played soccer his freshman through junior years, wasn't the most talented player on the team, Bodnar said. But he did serve as a great example for the others in terms of having the right attitude on and off the field.

"He was very respectful, physically fit, looking for a challenge, and a real good leader," which made him perfect for the Marines, Bodnar said.

It was those traits that Bodnar and the other soccer coaches wanted to instill in the rest of the team. One game during Smith's junior year, they decided to bench a starter and put in Smith, in the hopes of ridding the starters of their sense of entitlement.

"It was a calculated risk because David clearly wasn't as skilled as his teammates," he said. Smith came close to scoring a goal but didn't quite make it, which was OK, Bodnar said, because Smith earned his teammates' respect for his dedication and effort.

"We tried to get the message across that you need to be more like David," Bodnar said. "He brought that heart and soul. He never quit."

After Smith played soccer for three years, he switched sports and became a lineman on the football team his senior year.

"I used to joke around with him that he shouldn't have fooled around with soccer for so long," said football head coach Vince Ahearn. "That was the kind of guy he was, we joked around."

Smith played defense on the lacrosse team for two years, a position that is "basically a rough-and-tumble guy who you want to intimidate (the opponent's) shooters," said Smith's assistant lacrosse coach, Bill Douwes. He said he has since heard from several of Smith's former opponents who said they had much respect for him and the way he played the position.

"The people that played against him, and he was supposed to shut down, they admired him for his ability to play the sport," Douwes said.

Smith bonded with many of his coaches on a personal level and opened up to them as he thought about joining the Marines.

"He was very gung-ho," Bodnar said. "He seemed very determined to join the Marine Corps and protect his country."

Douwes said Smith checked in with him when he decided he didn't want to continue attending Salisbury University, when he decided to join the Marines, and when he had finished boot camp and was going to California for training. It was clear Smith was doing what made him happy, he said.

The Frederick High School football team decided to honor Smith by pulling his old jerseys to give to his family, Ahearn said. The lacrosse team is planning a memorial game for their first home game, on March 25 against Brunswick High School, said Jason Jachowski, the school's lacrosse coach who played with Smith for two years.

Frederick High School observed a moment of silence during Tuesday night's girls basketball game and will do the same at Friday night's boys basketball game.

Smith's family has not yet announced funeral arrangements.

News-Post Staff

1 comment:

Peace Turtle said...

God bless his family and friends. I sometimes think we don't deserve such kids but then I remember this country was built up by people like David Smith. I will not forget him.
Bob Bartlett