NSSAF Mourn Wade Smith, Long Time Principal and Coach

June 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Canadian Sport Features

The NSSAF family is saddened by the passing of Wade Smith. Wade was the principal of Citadel High and a strong supporter of school sport. He was a leader in helping student athletes achieve in the classroom and on the sport field. He exemplified our motto “Education through Sport”

Students to honour basketball star and Citadel High principal Wade Smith

Citadel High School principal and basketball star Wade Smith in full school colors at a 2014 event held to honour his former coach,  X-Men coach Steve Konchalski.

Citadel High School principal and basketball star Wade Smith in full school colors at a 2014 event held to honour his former coach, X-Men coach Steve Konchalski.

Students at the Halifax high school where basketball star Wade Smith was principal are being encouraged to wear black or Citadel clothing on Monday in honour of the man who inspired them.

The school council posted the message to social media Saturday using the hashtag #WadeStrong.

Students: we encourage you to wear black or Citadel clothing on Monday to show respect for Mr. Smith and his family

The Nova Scotia basketball community and the community at large is mourning the death of the former St. Francis Xavier basketball star who lost his battle with cancer on Friday evening.

Smith, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer in early April, turned 50 last month.

He was coach of Nova Scotia’s 2017 Canada Games U-17 boys basketball team, a squad that included his youngest son Jaxon, a former national tournament all-star. Smith’s older brother Thane has taken over coaching duties along with Shawn Mantley and Drew Stratton.

Smith’s oldest son, Jaydan, will be a freshman this fall and will play basketball at his father’s alma mater. Both of Smith’s sons were part of the double Nova Scotia gold medal performance at last year’s basketball championships.

Words of praise for the former St. F.X. shooting guard known for his ability to score in bunches and as a community leader and mentor, were many.

St. Francis Xavier women’s basketball coach Augy Jones was a life-long friend and former teammate.

“I met Wade during my first year with Community YMCA mini team. I was six years old and he was 7 1/2. I was a terrible basketball player and did not know many of the boys on the team. Wade being a year older, noticed I was kind of out of my element and he gravitated toward me.”

It was the start of a “tight friendship and similar life journeys.”

The pair played at the Community Y on Gottingen Street, high school at Queen Elizabeth, university at St. F.X. and with provincial and national teams.

They won provincial titles and were part of the historic 1987 Canada Games championship team.

“I was the point guard, he was the scorer. A package deal. I loved playing basketball with Wade. He was calm, skilled and quietly deadly. He knew it was his job to score the basketball and he did this unapologetically. He was offensive poetry in motion.”

Off the court, Jones described Smith as a loyal friend, dedicated community activist and fabulous son/brother/husband/dad.

“He was a good man. He always had time to listen to others and honestly assist them in any way he could. He saw the best in everybody,” said Jones. “This attitude towards others was the hallmark of his stellar career in education. From teacher to department head to vice-principal to principal . . . he treated all parties involved with empathy and respect. I have a lot of love for Wade Smith. I will miss him tremendously.”

St. F.X. coach Steve Konchalski has fond memories of the All-Canadian. However, he said Smith’s athletic accomplishments pale in comparison to his off-court achievements.

“Wade was a leader in everything he did — as an educator, in the African Nova Scotian community, as a coach of our Canada Games team as well as at the Community Y and as a husband and father,” said Konchalski.

“He was a role model for us all. His loyalty to me and to the St. F.X. basketball program was evidenced by his commitment to working for 28 straight summers at our Xavier basketball camp. His light will continue to shine bright in the lives of all those he touched for years to come.”

He was the youngest of five siblings. His brother Thane and his sister Lezlie followed their father into a career with Canada Post. An older brother Craig went on to become a corporal in the RCMP and is the author of a number of books, including Journey, an African Canadian educational resource guide, and a history of black officers in the RCMP, You Had Better Be White By 6 a.m. His brother Mark was a star fast-pitch softball player and coach, and is in both the Canadian and U.S. softball halls of fame.

“I might have been his older brother but Wade taught me so much these past weeks,” Mark said in a telephone interview. “He showed so much strength these past weeks. He set an example for us all.”

The family was buoyed by the support that poured in from across the country filling hospital hallways and Smith’s hospital room with hundreds of cards.

“So many came to talk about how much he meant to them in their life. It’s been really incredible.”

A who’s who Community Y alumni gathered to share stories and plenty of love.

Bev Greenlaw, a former Community Y coach who retired a couple of years ago from coaching the Acadia women’s basketball team, recalled Wade and his wife Sherry as “an exceptional couple who were powerful role models.

“Their partnership was beautiful to behold and their two sons evidence of that positive partnership,” said Greenlaw who was coach of the 1987 Canada Games championship team that included Jones and Smith.

The Community Y was a pillar in Smith’s life.

“Wade was always respectful of the mentors he had, Like Terry Symonds and Gary Farmer. He made sure he did his share to give back in any way he could,” said his brother Mark.

“He was an advocate for youth and did what he could to ensure that kids be given every advantage to succeed no matter where they came from.”

Smith turned 50 on May 14, the date he was to start chemotherapy, so the family organized a May 7 birthday bash at Citadel attended by hundreds.

“It was beautiful. There were former teammates who came from across the country, players, students and family. There was so much love,” said Mark.

Smith is survived by his wife, Sherry, and two sons Jaydon and Jaxon.

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