Smithson era begins in Oak Harbor

A new chapter in middle and high school athletics opened last week when Bob Smithson, 58, officially took the reigns as athletic director for the Oak Harbor School District.

Smithson, a 21-year veteran of the Everett School District, takes over for Jeff Stone, who retired as Oak Harbor’s AD in June.

“I’m looking forward to meeting people and getting involved in the community,” Smithson said, sitting in his new office on Friday.

For those unaware, Smithson brings a well-established athletic resume with him.

The last four years he oversaw athletics at Cascade, Henry M. Jackson and Everett high schools, along with five middle schools.

“I was director of athletics, health and fitness and activities…and I shared in decision making on field upgrades and maintenance, along with coordinating events at the central stadium (Everett Memorial Stadium),” Smithson said.

He will do much of the same in Oak Harbor, but will only have one high school and two middle schools to watch over.

Just because there are fewer schools, however, Smithson is well aware the job won’t get any easier in Oak Harbor.

“I think the challenges are there, there’s no question about it,” he said. “There are some really tough issues facing the community and some decisions we are going to have to deal with in terms of being a WesCo 4A school and having maybe the worst facilities in the league.”

Referring primarily to the poor condition of Memorial Stadium, Smithson is enthusiastic about being involved in the effort to work toward building a new athletic complex.

“The opportunity to do some things here is exciting,” he said. “There’s definitely some challenges here, but I think the community, with some input from us and with some good solid information, I think we can do some things in terms of facilities.”

He will work on his first task this week, trying to get temporary bleachers, along with a temporary press box for the upcoming home football and soccer seasons at Memorial Stadium.

Although Smithson has established himself as a successful athletic director, his experience in prep sports runs much deeper. He had a very successful career as a health teacher and head baseball coach at Cascade High School, where he was inducted into the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001.

In his 14 years of coaching the Bruins, they only failed to make the postseason once, during his first year. He won five league championships, five district championships and two regional championships.

Smithson’s best seasons coaching came in the 1993 and 1994, when the Bruins finished second and fourth in state respectively.

The 1993 championship game, which resulted in a 2-1 loss to Redmond, isn’t something he’ll soon forget.

“It was one of the best high school games I’ve ever been involved in, win or lose,” Smithson said.

The original game tape still remains sealed in an envelope in Smithson’s home and he is not sure if he’ll ever watch it.

“I can visualize everything in my mind anyway,” he said.

Smithson was also quite a player in his younger days.

During the spring of 1965, he was drafted in the 12th round from Everett Community College as a pitcher by the California Angels organization.

“That was one of the best experiences of my life,” Smithson said.

He played four years in the Angel farm system in Idaho Falls, Idaho and Davenport, Iowa, before quitting and continuing his education at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. He eventually moved on to Southern Mississippi University where he received a master’s degree.

From there Smithson moved back west, where he initially tried to get on as an assistant baseball coach with Washington State University. Although he was turned down for the job, Smithson and his wife still opted to return home.

After a few years of heavy machinery work, Smithson got his first job as a teacher.

Of every job he’s had, including his new position, Smithson is glad to say he always enjoyed his work.

“I tell some people I’ve gotten the opportunity to do the things I love to do and get paid for them,” he said. “I do it with a smile and I have a good time at it—I don’t know where it’s written you’re not supposed to have a good time doing your job.”

Bob and his wife of 37 years, Mary, along with their two bull mastiffs Preston and Georgia, are currently living in the Everett area, but intend on moving into their new home in Oak Harbor within the next couple of weeks.

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