Charles "Lefty" Smith passes away

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame University confirmed Wednesday morning that Charles "Lefty" Smith died Tuesday night of natural causes.

Here is Smith's bio information from Notre Dame's website:

The longest-tenured employee currently serving in the Notre Dame athletics department, Charles "Lefty" Smith is in his 42nd year at the University, beginning with his hiring in 1968 as the school's first varsity hockey coach. Smith came on board prior to the completion of the Joyce Center (at that time known as the Athletic and Convocation Center), which actually made him the first Joyce Center employee. In his current role, he oversees all activities within the Loftus Sports Center, which now is part of the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.

Smith coached the Irish for 19 seasons (1968-87), amassing a 307-320-30 record, including runner-up finishes in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) in 1973 and 1977. He was named the WCHA Coach of the Year in 1973 and turned out numerous All-Americans, including two-time honoree Jack Brownschidle (1976-77), 1976-77 WCHA Most Valuable Player Brian Walsh, 1980 All-American (and 2005 NCAA Silver Anniversary recipient) Greg Meredith, and 1982 Hobey Baker Award finalist (and eventual NHL standout) Dave Poulin. What's more, all 126 players who completed their collegiate eligibility under Smith's tutelage earned their college degrees.

Smith served as the president of the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) for two years and also was the head coach of the at-large team in the first-ever National Sports Festival in 1978. Eight members of that team would go on to be part of the gold-medal winning 1980 United States Olympic hockey team.

Smith was inducted into the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1992. He also played an integral role in bringing the International Special Olympics to Notre Dame in 1987, the highlight of a 10-year affiliation with that movement. Also in 1987, Smith stepped away from coaching to take over the opening of the Loftus Sports Center.

A 1951 graduate of St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minn., where he also earned a master's degree in guidance and counseling. While at St. Thomas, he was a four-year standout in both hockey and baseball, going on to play both sports at the semi-pro level in Minneapolis. Smith became an assistant hockey coach at South St. Paul High School in 1953 and took over as the head coach of that fabled program until 1968, turning in a 201-69-11 record before he left for Notre Dame.

Thanks to the generosity of the John Boler family of Chicago, the new ND hockey rink is going to be known as the Lefty Smith rink.

Married for 58 years, Smith and his late wife, Mickey, are the proud parents of seven living children, with 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.



Share this article: