Mentor for Life

Jun 17th, 2013 | By | Category: Advancement

BY Jim Went­worth

My wife Deb­bie and I trav­eled to Cal­i­for­nia in March where we met up with Wes­ley Hall of Fame Coach Dick Smith and his wife Nan­cy. We had a won­der­ful vis­it that also includ­ed for­mer play­er Richard Brown ’64 and his wife Mary. We rem­i­nisced about the years from 1961 to 1966 when Coach Smith was the foot­ball coach at Wes­ley.

Back row, left to right: Richard Brown ’64 and wife Mary, Deb­bie Went­worth and Nan­cy Smith; seat­ed, left to right: Coach Dick Smith and Coach Jim Went­worth.

I pre­sent­ed him with a sig­na­ture foot­ball from the 1963 unde­feat­ed sea­son to add to his Wes­ley mem­o­ra­bil­ia. Dick coached both the 1962 and 1963 teams to unbeat­en sea­sons. The Wolver­ines were ranked 5th in the coun­try in 1962 and 2nd in the coun­try in 1963. These were the only years Wesley’s foot­ball team was unde­feat­ed and untied. Richard was a start­ing mem­ber of both per­fect sea­sons, and he still val­ues Coach Smith’s sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence on his life today.

Coach Smith was always a men­tor to me. He was a nat­ur­al at turn­ing indi­vid­u­al­ism into a true team com­mit­ment. Those years spent with him had a pro­found effect on me as I was just start­ing the coach­ing pro­fes­sion. His method of moti­vat­ing play­ers to work dili­gent­ly served as a foun­da­tion upon which my own coach­ing career was built.

Get­ting to see Coach Smith after 40 years was one of the most ful­fill­ing expe­ri­ences of my life. Over the years I have had the plea­sure of vis­it­ing with for­mer play­ers and always find it reward­ing to see that the place I cher­ish also had a pos­i­tive impact on their lives. I will trea­sure the mem­o­ries from this reunion and hope that oth­ers will reach out to Coach Smith, myself and oth­er play­ers to con­tin­ue our spe­cial bond.

I would also encour­age for­mer play­ers, if they are ever in the San Diego area, to vis­it Coach Smith and Nan­cy and share the dif­fer­ence he made in your life. If you are not able to vis­it in per­son, I’m sure he would love to hear from you by email at

I give thanks to God for my won­der­ful life at Wes­ley Col­lege where so many of my friend­ships began includ­ing Coach Smith. I am a strong believ­er in giv­ing back and sup­port­ing edu­ca­tion; your sup­port is vital to the con­tin­ued suc­cess of Wes­ley Col­lege.

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