Remembering Murray Smith

    The Sports Wall of Fame member coached Golden Bears and Pandas swimming and Golden Bears football to numerous Canada West titles

    By Matthew Gutsch on March 7, 2018

    Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics is recognizing the life and impact of Sports Wall of Fame member and Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation Professor Emeritus Dr. Murray F.R. Smith.

    Murray Smith Sports Wall of Fame Bio

    Born in 1925 in Dauphin, Manitoba, Smith passed away this year in Kelowna, B.C. in the company of family. A Celebration of Life will take place in the afternoon of Saturday April 21, at a location to be announced.  Please RSVP to with your intention to attend.

    Smith played three seasons with the Golden Bears football team as an undergraduate, and was active in several intramural sports. He also coached hockey and football at University High School, then housed in Corbett Hall. He graduated from the University of Alberta with a BEd (’48), followed by a PhD (’74). He also finished post-doctoral studies at Oxford and UCLA. 

    After teaching stops in Blairmore, Alberta and Devon (where he was principal), he returned to Edmonton and taught at Old Scona, Victoria, and Strathcona Composite. He joined the U of A’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation as Associate Dean Academic in 1958, a position he retained until 1989. Within that 30-year span, Smith spent 15 years as the Head Coach of the Golden Bears and Pandas swimming teams (1963-77), guiding the Golden Bears to eight Canada West championships and four silver medal team finishes at the national championship level. He was awarded the Canadian University swimming Coach of the Year award in 1968. Smith also served as an assistant coach with the Golden Bears football team for one season, and as head coach for two (1960-62), culminating in a Canada West Championship following a perfect season in 1960-61. In 1978, he returned to the sidelines as an assistant coach for three seasons, including his time as a runningbacks coach in 1980 when the Bears won the College Bowl, now known as the Vanier Cup.

    He was also the first coach of the Edmonton Huskies Junior Football team, leading the junior team from 1954 to 1958. He finished his coaching career with the Huskies with a 30-11 record, two Western Canada Finals and was three Coach of the Year awards. He was inducted into the University of Alberta Sports Wall of Fame in 1990, as is also enshrined in Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, City of Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame and the Edmonton Huskies Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Queen's 25th Anniversary and Canadian Confederation medals, as well as numerous citations from the Canadian Red Cross, an organization he was closely affiliated with as a volunteer and policy builder over many years. Along with various other responsibilities, he served as Chair of the Canadian Red Cross; a member of the Alberta Cancer board; Executive Member of the Alberta Section of the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association; Chair, Sports Division, for the Commonwealth Games (1974-76); and as Vice President, Venues, for the World University Games (1982-83). His work as a renowned sports psychologist featured an impressive roster of organizations including the Edmonton Oilers, Kelowna Rockets (WHL), Kamloops Blazers (WHL), and many Golden Bears teams. 

    His lifelong interest in both the practice and theory of coaching also saw him play a significant role as the author of numerous segments of the National Coaching Certification Plan, writing on motivation, communication, coaching methods and sport psychology in both the Theory and Technical streams of the program.

    He also spearheaded the creation of a National Registry for sport psychologists, educators, and researchers on behalf of the Canadian Association of Sport Sciences. 

    Donations in Murray's Memory may be made to the University of Alberta or the Canadian Red Cross Society.

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