Dave Smalley Award

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Coach Dave Smalley 


Coach Dave Smalley was a foundation student at Mercersburg Academy and a member of the Naval Academy Class of 1957. As a midshipman, Coach Smalley played baseball and basketball and was the captain of the basketball team twice. In 1957, he won the NAAA Sword. 


After serving in the US Marine Corps for five years, where he was named to the All-Marine Basketball Team for four of those years, Coach Smalley returned to USNA as assistant coach to the men’s basketball team.


In 1966, he was named head coach of the USNA men’s basketball team until 1977.  


In 1976, he stood up the first women’s basketball team as their coach until 1989 with a record of 178-118. He had winning seasons in 10 out of the 12 seasons with the women midshipmen. The 1986-87 team finished 18-8 and captured the ECAC South Division II Championship.


Smalley held the title of Assistant Director of Athletics in charge of admissions since 1979 and was promoted to Senior Associate Athletic Director for Admissions, Academics and Compliance in 2001. In that capacity, Smalley handled the admissions process for recruited athletes in each of Navy's 30 varsity sports. Smalley and his staff also monitored the academic progress of Navy's 1500 student-athletes.


In 2006, the Naval Academy named the basketball floor at the Academy after him and in 2007 he was inducted into the Maryland State Hall of Fame. 


Coach Smalley dedicated his life to sports and working with youth. He set the example and held his players to high standards accepting nothing less from them.  Anyone who played for Coach Smalley respected and revered him not just for being a great coach but for being a life mentor to each student athlete that he encountered. 




Cathy Rayhill, Class of 1980 (First class with women) – Coach Smalley was, by far, the person I admired the most during my Academy days. He took the women’s b-ball program on, not long after relinquishing the reins of the men’s program (which some would have considered a major demotion) and went on to make the program the envy of many. He was a tough, very principled man who expected you to use your God-given talents and apply yourself to the fullest each day. He was a dedicated family man, whose wife and children always came first. He taught me a great deal about leadership, compassion and perseverance. A man I will never forget.

Kevin Sinnett, CAPT (Ret), USN Class of 1979

Coach was a true gentleman coach. His teaching of fundamentals, teamwork, leadership, respect for your opponent, and passion were what developed me individually, and the team as a whole, to best represent the Naval Academy and our chances of winning. What college or professional basketball player today would commit a charging foul while knocking down the defender, then reach out a hand and help the defender up?! That type of respect was taught by Coach Smalley as part of Navy basketball. Never once did Coach ‘get in your face’. He’d sit with you, explain the situation calmly, tell you what he expected, and put you back in the game – that is leadership, that is player development.


Lynne Coe Farlow, Class of 1982 - I met Coach Smalley as a high school junior in Ohio and he recruited me to USNA with the class of 1982. I owe him not just a basketball career, but a Navy and life career! Coach Smalley helped me chart my course for life. I met him at basketball camps in high school and was impressed with his hard-nosed focus on the fundamentals of basketball. Those fundamentals translate to everyday life - work hard, pay attention to the details, work as a team. Love Coach Smalley & Gerry!


Martha Anne Sheagren Beals, Class of 1984 - I played for Coach Smalley as a plebe, and when I decided to leave the Academy, Coach called me to say he could change my company. I had already checked out mentally, so I declined his offer. But the fact that he made the offer has left a fond place in my heart for him. He was the absolute best.


LT. GEN. Lori Reynolds, Class of 1986 - Coach Smalley - where can you even begin? He taught us so much more than the game of basketball. He taught us to do the basics well, to work hard, to have dignity, to always maintain our bearing, to set the example, and to wear the uniform with pride. I remember watching a men's game with him. One of the players on the Navy team had his shirt tail out of his shorts; Coach said he would have pulled him from the game! To Coach, how you represented the team was essential - it was all about the team. When I entered the Corps, I realized that everything I learned playing for him directly translated into being a leader in the Marine Corps. So many times throughout my career, I've asked myself "What would Coach do?" I think everyone needs that ideal leader in their lives who sets the example to aspire to...Dave Smalley has always been that for me - even today. He was the man...

Bruce Grooms, VADM (Ret) USN, Class of 1980 -  Coach Smalley helped countless young women balance and enjoy the competing demands of athletics, academics, and life in the brigade. In later years, I returned to the Academy to serve as Commandant of Midshipmen.  To my great pleasure, Coach Smalley was serving in a position of highest responsibility and impact on the brigade, as Senior Associate Athletic Director for Admissions, Academics and Compliance.  In this capacity, he had such a huge impact on the lives of USNA recruited athletes across all sports and he was one of the strongest supporters of midshipmen who encountered academic challenges.  He tirelessly advocated for countless midshipmen ensuring they were successful students, athletes, and eventually fleet sailors and marines.


Nancy Prout Brooks, Class of 1986 - I played for Coach Smalley for 4 years. I can’t think of a better person to name this award for in celebration of all the opportunities he gave many women in the early days of women at USNA. He was a leader for equal rights for women at USNA. I had a military instructor in a core history course my plebe year fail me on a midterm. When I asked him what I did wrong and how could I improve my score he replied “Nothing. Women don’t belong here.” My next stop was Coach Smalley. Next thing I know I was giving my Blue Book to the Academic Dean who had another professor review my work and resulted in moving my grade to a B- and the instructor was suddenly “reassigned for military needs.” I learned from him advocating for those whose voices aren’t being heard, who were entitled to a fair opportunity. Miss him.


Mary McElroy, Class of 1987 - Dave Smalley changed my life. He chose me as a walk-on for his basketball team, and later hired me as his assistant Compliance Coordinator, giving me my start in college athletics administration after I left active duty in the Marines. Today, I’m overseeing women’s basketball for the ACC. I am forever in his debt. Because of him, I can!

Dave Bethel, Class of 1979 - After Coach left the Men’s Program he stood up the Women’s Program. Shortly thereafter he took over the Assistant AD for Recruiting. Coach Smalley from that time on briefed every recruited athletes case in front of the admissions board.  With the advent of Women’s athletics and Minority recruiting Coach very literally changed the landscape the Brigade of Midshipmen.  His 50 years of service to the Academy, from the time he returned from Hawaii, through the men’s and women’s teams and his efforts supporting the AD and Coaches of All Sports eventually as an Associate AD for Recruiting….He made a huge difference and impact on NAAA and the Brigade of Midshipmen as a whole.



Coach Dave Smalley

577 days ago by Daniel Quattrini

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