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Community Loses Pioneer in Youth Sports

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Community Loses Pioneer in Youth Sports

Young athletes in Fort Walton Beach have lost one of their strongest supporters.

Buck Smith, one of the founding members of All Sports Association (ASA), died Tuesday. He was 79."

He touched a lot of lives — including mine," said Kevin Locht, past president of ASA.

Locht remembers Smith supporting his Little League team years ago. It was not uncommon for Smith bring a case of oranges and bananas to high school teams heading for away games or rent a touring bus so the kids would have a safe and comfortable trip."

He was instrumental in most of the youth athletics," Locht said. "He was a firm believer in the thought that kids who belonged in sports would be less problems to society."

Smith would even take kids to see games around the area.

"There used to be a semi-pro basketball team that played in Pensacola," Locht said. "He'd load 'em up and take them to the games."

Although Smith was a Choctaw alumnus (he was a lineman as a freshman), he supported both Indians and Vikings.

"After they built Fort Walton Beach High School, there wasn't enough money for a field house," Locht recalled. "He used his own money and rounded up people and started building one himself."

In the late 1960s, he started a men's slow pitch softball team comprised of local players. The team competed on a national level in 1973 and finished 6th.

Smith was also active in creating the local chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). About 25 years ago, as a guest speaker for an FCA banquet in Pensacola, he told an ASA member, "We've got to get one of them things for our kids."

"He had the biggest impact, but he didn't do it for him(self)," said Michelle Carmical, executive director for the Okaloosa-Walton FCA. "He did it for the kids. I just love that about him."

In the past 15 years, Carmical said the organization has grown from 250 students to 1,100 from schools across Okaloosa and Walton counties. She believes he would be proud of what FCA has become.

Locht said what he'll miss most about his mentor is having someone to bounce ideas off of. He said he'll try to pick up where Smith left off.

"Buck had a saying...'Say what it is you do and do what it is you say,'" Locht said. "He lived by that."

"He was always doing for others."

A fish fry to celebrate Buck Smith’s life has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday at VFW Post 7674 at 213 Carol Ave. N.W. in Fort Walton Beach

By JENNIE McKEON
315-4434 | @JennieMnwfdn
jmckeon@nwfdailynews.com