Playing Through Heartbreak
Weber State female athletes have competed through severe physical pain, like Crawford’s back spasms. And who could forget steeplechase competitor Amber Henry’s BS ’14 elbow that dislocated during a race — an elbow that the nursing major popped back into place herself so she could finish her race.
But this year, Weber State’s women golfers learned what it was like to play through emotional pain. After losing their beloved coach, Jeff Smith, known as “Smitty,” to leukemia on Feb. 16, 2016, the Wildcats were committed to finishing the season strong, for him.
After Smith’s passing, junior golfer Lexie Albi told The Signpost, “This loss has brought us closer together and has given us so much fire to play for him.”
The greatest lesson Albi learned from her coach was, ultimately, not about golf, it was about life. “Love people regardless of what they have ever done to you and just have grace with everything, no matter what,” Albi said in the newspaper’s tribute to Smith. “He was just that; he didn’t have a mean bone in his body. I think if we could just all live like that, we could be better people.”
The women’s golf team went on to the Big Sky Conference championship and finished fourth. The team’s score of 886 was the lowest conference tournament total in school history — in golf, the lower the score, the better — beating the previous mark of 915 set in 2013. Twice during the week, the Wildcats broke 300 for the day, with a 293 on Tuesday and a 290 on Wednesday. Both scores broke the previous school record of 301, which was set in 2004 at the tournament and matched in 2013.
Smith was director of golf for the Wildcat men’s and women’s golf teams. He had been the head women’s golf coach for 24 years