Meet George Smith! George graduated from Central Catholic in 1966. George played football at CC as well as college football at Butler University for two years before moving to Purdue University and pursuing a degree in physical education, which he obtained in 1971.
After college, George was hired by St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale in 1972. He was hired as a history teacher, assistant football and track & field coach, and head wrestling coach. As coach of the new wrestling program, he had an overall record of 86-30 over the next seven years, and was the Wrestling Coach of the Year in 1973-74 for the Miami Herald and twice for the South Atlantic Conference.
George became the head football coach at St. Thomas Aquinas in 1975 and quickly built the program into a powerhouse. George’s 34-year career as a head football coach has led to a 361-66 overall record for St. Thomas Aquinas, which also includes 26 district championships, 12 undefeated seasons, 7 state runner-up finishes, and 6 state championships. The football team also won the national championship in 2008 and 2010.
George is a multiple winner of both the Miami Herald and the Sun-Sentinel Football Coach of the Year awards. He has coached many players who have excelled in college and professional sports, including former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin and the San Francisco 49ers Nick Bosa. He was the first Florida football coach to register 350 wins with one school.
In addition to coaching, George also took on the role of athletic director in 1982. The St. Thomas Aquinas athletic program has won more than 112 state championships during his tenure and has won its classification in the Dodge Sunshine Cup FHSAA Floyd E. Lay All-Sports Awards each year since it began in 1995. It has been the Miami Herald Athletic Program of the Year for more than 35 years, and in May 2005 was designated the third-best high school athletic program in the nation by Sports Illustrated. St. Thomas Aquinas has produced more NFL players than any other high school in the country.
For his excellence in coaching and as an athletic director, George has been honored with several different awards. He has been inducted into the Broward County Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame, the Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) Hall of Fame, and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association. George has also been named a recipient of the American Football Coaches Association’s Power of Influence award. St. Thomas Aquinas High School also honored George by naming an athletic complex after him. He was also honored as a Central Catholic Knight to Remember in 2008.
George is a member of the American Football Coaches Association and has served on its high school and public relations committees. George is also a popular football clinic speaker across the country.
George has been married for nearly 49 years to fellow CC classmate and alum Carole (Blakesley). George and Carole dated while in high school but broke up during college before dating again later. George and Carole have one daughter and two granddaughters. The love of sports runs in the family. Their daughter works in the football office at Michigan State University (MSU), while their son-in-law is the head wrestling coach at MSU. The Smiths also have a dog named Bella.
How did your education at LCSS prepare you for college and your career/vocation?
Central Catholic academically taught me to work and study…and go to class! I also think that CC prepared me for life, which in my mind is much more important than books.
What did you like most about your experience at LCSS?
I most remember some of the teachers. Fr. Vernon was great, and I remember Mrs. Carol Bangs, who taught English. She helped teach me how to study and the importance of prioritizing academics and athletics.
Coach Paul LaRocca was one of the most important figures in my life beyond my parents. I played football for Coach LaRocca for four years. He really mentored me when my father passed away in December of my senior year. To this day, I still talk to him and keep in touch. During my 34 years of being the head coach, I would call him every weekend after a Friday night game. We would go over the plays and discuss what I did right and what I needed to work on for the next game.
What is your favorite memory from your years at LCSS?
My favorite memories are the people that I went to school with and the friends. I had very good friends, and it’s great to remember those times.