Sylvester "Sonny" Smith    Inducted 1990 - Class of 1951

He was the co-founder of the Calvin M. Woodward Memorial Stadium. He was the first person to coach there. He holds the title as the winningest coach in the stadium. He is Sylvester "Sonny" Smith.

During his ten years as head football coach from 1968 to 1978, seven of those were winning seasons. In 1971, his team captured the Blue Division Championship but lost to Scott in the Shoe Bowl. By 1975, his team went on to become the Red Division Champions as well as Co-City Champions when they tied St. John's in the Shoe Bowl. Woodward finished seventh in the state in 1975 with an 8-1 record. In fact, WHS was the only city high school to win both the Blue and Red Division Football Championships when the school switched leagues. Sonny coached two All-American players from Woodward, Marvin Crenshaw and Jimmy Kregel and 48 of his men earned Division I scholarships to universities.

 

Before he was head football coach, Sonny also served as an assistant for twelve years. From 1961 to 1978, he was the wrestling team's head coach. Sonny retired from teaching at Woodward last July.

Sonny served as the regional director of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association for seven years. He chaired committees to foster interest in Ohio football and coached the 1972 Ohio All-Star Team and the first Ohio-Penn All-Star game. As past president of the Toledo Football Coaches Association, Sonny was a frequent guest speaker at a number of football clinics all over the country. He was voted Northwest Ohio's Coach of the Year in 1971 and 1975.

For two years, Sonny coached football at the University of Toledo. Under his direction, two players became All-American. He also led the University of Toledo Alumni to three straight wins against the university’s varsity team.

Sonny's athletic prowess was first recognized when he played for the Polar Bears. While attending Woodward from 1947 to 1951, he was awarded 11 varsity letters: three in football, two in both track and basketball and four in baseball. He was captain of the varsity teams in all four sports. He was awarded the Outstanding Sophomore Athletic Award as well as the Michigan Plaque.

This achievement did not end when he stepped off the playing field. He was the vice president of both his junior and senior classes. Sonny was also active in Student Council and the Engineering Society.

His hard work was rewarded with a football scholarship to the University of Toledo. He lettered in baseball and football for four years. As a football player, he was a starter for three years. On the baseball field, Sonny made the All Mid-American Conference his junior year and was co-captain of his team in 1956. He played AA city federation baseball for four years. Sonny was also awarded the Jim White ROTC Scholarship and the Downtown Coaches Scholarship. He was drafted by the St. Louis Browns, a major league baseball team. The opportunity was tempting but Sonny decided to finish college. He graduated in 1956.

Currently, Sonny serves as the President of the Varsity "T" Club at the University of Toledo and is a member of its alumni association. His other memberships include Old Newsboy, Saturday Morning Toledo Club, State Football Coaches Association and Alhapa, a Greek organization. Sonny is a committee member of the City League Hall of Fame, Woodward Hall of Fame and University of Toledo Hall of Fame. As WCWA's Sports Color Man, he covered football and basketball games for Bowling Green State University, University of Toledo, City Leagues and Whitmer High School.

Sonny has been the Coordinator for the City's Swimming Pools for 32 years. Sonny, one of Woodward's finest coaches, has been married for 35 years and has five children and seven grandchildren.

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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