Even though Tommy "Dino" Smith has passed away, the Bishop Donahue High School family has found a way to keep the memory of their No. 1 fan's big smile alive.
Bishop Donahue's junior varsity and varsity basketball teams began their first season Friday without Smith, who was manager of the team for 35 years until his passing in March. In Smith's honor, the school held a ceremony to dedicate the court's new gym floor in honor of his memory. Principal and Head Basketball Coach Tom Wise also presented Smith's family with a plaque in his honor and signs were painted on the court in Smith's memory.
"Dino was a fantastic guy," Wise said. "He loved to laugh - loved to tell jokes. What I remember most was how kind he was all the time and happy, no matter what. If he didn't know you and he saw you needed help, he would offer it. It's just the kind of person that he was."
Photo by Sarah Harmon
Bishop Donahue High School basketball players Jared Yates, left, and Lavonte Hampton wear “Dino” shirts during Friday’s game in honor of the late Tommy “Dino” Smith who was described as the school’s “biggest fan” before his death in March.
Thanks to a $9,600 donation from the Evan G. Roberts Charitable Trust Grant and a contribution from the BB&T financial firm, in November the school completed work to resurface the floors of the gym and install new doors. During this work, Wise said everybody recognized the opportunity to remember their friend through the renovations.
Wise, who has coached for 30 years, said Smith got his start at Bishop Donahue when his brother played for the school. During a game, Smith noticed the coach needed help picking up balls and other tasks and offered his help, Wise said. Smith quickly became a faithful and beloved presence at every basketball and football game and could be seen supporting other sports as well.
"That was just so much like Dino," Wise said. "He always put others before himself. Always. He just became a daily part of our lives."
Even near the end of his life, Smith was described as a dedicated fan who would call in for the score of games when he was unable to physically attend.
"He was an ally, an inspiration, our biggest fan and, most importantly, our friend," Wise said.