Bill Smith didn’t start out as a running coach.
“I coached football at Oklahoma and basketball in Indiana,” he said. “I found out it was unsafe to do either one of those in those two states. So I coached running events.”
Smith, a Carmel resident who coached at various levels for more than 50 years, was recently enshrined in the National Junior College Athletic Association Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2021-22.
From 1982 to 2002, Bill Smith served as the cross country and track and field coach for Vincennes University. Then from 2004 to 2007, Smith was the assistant track and field coach.
Smith and his wife, Patricia, moved to Carmel six years ago because two of his three daughters live in Carmel.
Smith coached at St. Lawrence Junior High in Lawrenceville, Ill. when he was 19 years old. He coached three years at a boarding school in Tulsa, Okla., and then spent 22 years as cross country coach at a Catholic high school in Vincennes.
Smith, 84, continued to teach science until 2008.
In the marathon race, Smith’s women’s team earned the championship national title four out of five years (1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001). In 1996, Smith’s team won the NJCAA Men’s Marathon National Championship title and the women collected team runner-up honors in 1997 and 2002. In 1995, the men earned marathon team runner-up honors at nationals. Smith helped produce five women’s individual champions (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002). On the men’s side, the one individual men’s marathon national champion was in 1995. All together, Smith helped 15 individuals earn NJCAA All-American status.
In cross country, Smith’s team earned the 1992 NJCAA Women’s Cross Country Championship, and in 1991 and 1993 the women took home national runner-up distinctions.
On the track and field front, Smith’s dedication earned him various awards and recognitions. In 1993, he was voted the NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year. Smith’s commitment to the Trailblazer teams resulted in two NJCAA outdoor track and field individual champions (1983 and 1993). Smith helped produce 20 track and field NJCAA All-Americans and 94 national place finishers in track and field to stand as one of the most well-rounded coaches in the association. Each spring, Vincennes hosts the Bill Smith Open meet.