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John Clarence Smith

Inducted 1991 (charter class)

Regarded as one of the best basketball coaches in Northwest Florida, John C. Smith established an impressive record – 613 wins over a period of 36 years of coaching in Santa Rosa County. With this victory total, he ranks third on the all-time career victory list in the state of Florida.

After two years in the army, Smith returned home to attend the University of Florida where he graduated in 1949. For the next two years, he taught and coached at Fidelis Junior High School, a feeder school for Jay High School. He became head basketball coach at Jay in 1951 and, except for two years at Milton High School, was basketball coach at Jay when he recorded all of his 613 wins.

Smith coached former Santa Rosa County School Superintendent Benny Russell, Jay High School principal Thomas Rowland, and many of the community's fathers and sons. He developed two rules of coaching which he strongly applies today: never curse a player and never touch a player in anger.

Smith, who retired in 1989, still lives in Jay. He enjoys gardening, helping neighbors, fishing and volunteering in the community. He has also remarried since his first wife, Nellie Ruth, died in 1999. Smith has three sons: Thomas David, Gregory and Peter Lynn.