HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Family, friends celebrate life of Kalaheo legend Pete Smith
There was the slender, clean-shaven Pete Smith, a smooth basketball operator at Kailua in the 1970s.
Then there was the steely-eyed glint of young Coach Smith.
Along the way, vivid images of Pete the husband eternally in love, a father playing with his sons, a coach directing his players. Threaded into the mix, myriad memories of Pete the Builder, helping friends and fellow teachers with house-fixing projects of all sorts.
Pete Smith was a builder of homes and Kalaheo's boys basketball dynasty. On Sunday, he was honored most of all for building the most precious resource in life: relationships.
Close to 1,000 friends and fans of the longtime coach, who died recently after a long battle with cancer, celebrated his life during a memorial service at Kalaheo High School gym.
Smith's family -- wife Stacey and sons Josh, Alika and Kea -- were present and gracious. Smith's inner circle of Kalaheo lifers, an eclectic bunch with a variety of robust personalities, were connected in many ways by his gentle pull.
"All the times we spent at his house, after games, that's what I miss," longtime assistant coach Chico Furtado said. "Win or lose, it was always, 'Hey, you coming over to the house, right?' Breakfast at Times Coffee Shop, scribbling the game plan on napkins."
Furtado, sometimes fiery and verbose, was often a complement to Smith's cool, diplomatic manners along the sideline at Kalaheo games. Furtado, who went on to become a prominent head coach with the Lady Mustangs' program, became the boys coach when Smith retired in 2004 after 18 years at the helm.
"If it weren't for him, I don't think I would ever have gone into coaching," he said.
Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona was among the speakers at the service, recalling a loss to Smith and the Kailua Surfriders in the finals of the 1972 state championships.
When longtime athletic director and former coach Lee Cashman took the podium, never were so many Kalaheo fans so silent for so long. Cashman, who hired Smith as coach in 1985, collected his thoughts despite overwhelming emotions.
"We are here to celebrate the journey of Pete's life," he said, pausing in mid-sentence to get the words out. "God has given us the ability to remember. Remember the memories."
Cashman recalled Smith's love for power tools, which was all the payment he ever requested for various home-fixing and building tasks. Smith took his teaching to heart. In weight training, he devised a computer program to track each student's progress. Instead of competing against bigger, stronger students, each youngster simply competed against himself or herself.
"He had innate teaching ability," Cashman said.
Dr. James Schlosser, Kalaheo's principal, estimated that Smith touched the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands of students.
His legacy began early.
"He was my first coach," Tim Harrison said of playing in the Kailua Youth Athletic League, now called the Kailua Basketball Association. "His brother, Steve, went to Vietnam, so Pete took over. He was in eighth grade, not even in high school yet."
Harrison, who was 10 at the time, is now Kailua's coach. In between, he coached under Smith.
"He was so even-keeled, and he was a prankster. But he was organized to the max," Harrison said. "I never knew anybody so organized."
Stacey Smith was happy to share her husband with the basketball community and public at-large for decades. Pete usually did the talking, but she felt compelled to thank the folks who bid their friend goodbye.
"The warmth, the aloha, the lives he's touched through basketball ... it didn't surprise me at all," she said. "His goodness and kindness, you can't help but love him."