Behind every single athletic event that the school participates in is a team of dedicated workers that make sure the whole thing operates smoothly and seamlessly.
As a spectator, one does not fully see the behind-the-scenes workers in action. Utah Valley University bids farewell to Dr. DJ Smith this year, the Senior Associate Athletic Director for the last 29 years.
UVU has grown over the time that Smith first arrived. In almost three decades of his time here, the school has gone through three name changes and the level and conferences of play have changed vastly in his time spent on the campus.
“It’s been a great experience,” Smith said. “When I got here, we had about 3,500 students and now we are closing in on 35,000. It started out as Utah Technical College and has since transformed into Utah Valley University. I have seen a lot of growth and changes.”
In the same amount of time that the school changed, Utah Valley has seen a growth in athletics, from playing in the NJCAA to NCAA Division I, all the while having seen the softball team win a national championship as a junior college and the men’s basketball winning a championship in the provisional stages of DI.
With all the growth and constant change, Smith was able to show his hard work and dedication to this program. He began his tenure in the sports information department, a department that takes much time away from family and demands devoted attention.
“I always tried to do my best, no matter what my responsibilities were,” Smith explained. “I tried to do them to the best of my abilities, no matter how many hours it took to do it. No matter what it was, I wanted to do my job and do it well.”
His work paid off by winning awards for his media guides as best in the nation nine times while in the NJCAA. In due time, Smith was promoted to Associate Athletic Director in 2003.
While the success of the athletic programs are high on anyone’s list within the athletic department, those that were close to Dr. Smith knew that having a friendship with him meant everything. Smith was a people person with a quick joke and a contagious smile, who always went around asking people how they were doing.
“I think the greatest thing [working here] has been the associations I have established with people and those I have gotten to know,” he said.
Those friendships and bonds are what helped Smith have a long and great career at UVU. His example of friendship and hard work will not be forgotten.
Smith was awarded the Michael V. Jacobsen Bronze Wolverine in the Wolverine Club awards, the highest honor from UVU, which will stand as a testament of his work in the athletic department.
Garrett is native of Orem, Utah. He is a graduate of Timpanogos High School. While in high school, Garrett enjoyed playing sports and was a double lettered athlete in football in wrestling. After a short stint of college football at Dixie State, Garrett made his way back to Utah Valley in pursuit of his aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. Garrett has been contributing for the UVU Review for three years and has covered sports, specializing in wrestling. Garrett is married to Jodi Coleman and served an LDS mission to Baguio Philippines. You can follow him on twitter @legendgary