As a child, Brian Smith just hoped he would live to see 50.
Smith, now 53, accepted the 2019 Don Faurot Sportsperson of the Year Award for his success as MU’s head wrestling coach. In his acceptance speech, he told the crowd that because he was often sick as a child, he felt, “like I was living on borrowed time.”
“I may be living on borrowed time but, man, I’m living it,” Smith said.
Smith began coaching at MU in 1998. Over the 21 years since then, he’s been the Mid-America Coach of the Year five times, holds a .736 career winning percentage and developed a unique training program known as “Tiger Style,” according to the MU Athletic Department’s website.
The coach explained at Tuesday’s ceremony that this style was rooted in developing the person rather than the athlete.
He told stories of hosting all of his 35 wrestlers at his home each Christmas for a gift exchange, traveling to the Olympics to watch his athletes compete and witnessing his former wrestlers becoming doctors, CEOs and fathers.
“Every day I get to make a difference in their lives and they make a difference in mine,” Smith said.
This year marked the 29th annual Don Faurot award ceremony, which celebrates an individual who makes significant contributions to the Columbia sports community over an extended period of time.
Faurot graduated from MU in 1924 after lettering in football, basketball and baseball. Starting as MU’s head football coach in 1935, he went on to win three league championships and was the fifth person inducted into the State of Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1953.
Smith said in his speech he was inspired by the career of Faurot and his long-lasting legacy.
“If I can live up to even half of what he did, I’d be making an impact,” Smith said.
The award is given by the Kiwanis Club of Missouri, a local chapter of an international charity organization which aims to serve the youth of their community.
Molly Delgado, president of the Columbia Kiwanis, began Tuesday’s ceremony by remembering long-time member and former Columbia mayor Darwin Hindman, who passed away Monday.
She said Hindman’s responsibilities as mayor kept him from a number of Kiwanis functions, but the club continued to value his efforts to make Columbia a more active place to live. “He was off making the city so much better,” she said.
Supervising editor is Michael Knisley.