Silent Gesture: Autobiography of Tommie Smith

By Tommie Smith; David Steele | Go to book overview

6
The Coach
and the Professor

IT WAS NO COINCIDENCE that my day of running and protesting during my sophomore year at San Jose State involved both Bud Winter, my coach, and Professor Harry Edwards. It’s also no coincidence that after having been a student of both men, I became both a coach and a teacher later in life. I learned from both of them, on the track and in the classroom and away from both locations; I incorporated their lessons and their ways of teaching them into my methods of instruction, so much so that one can see the traits of both men within me when I impart a lesson to others.

Anyone who has spent time with, or even around, strong personalities such as theirs could not help but be influenced heavily by them. At the same time, however, it probably was inevitable that those two personalities would clash, directly with each other in some ways, but also at a convenient and logical point of convergence—me. I had the distinction of being able to see close-up the similarities, differences, and conflicts in these two distinguished authorities in their fields.

I also got to see how their personalities affected me. In hindsight, something of a difference of opinion was bound to rise between me and Harry Edwards, and it did—just not until after my days at San Jose State had ended and I had gained some measure of experience and perspective. To this day, I respect Harry Edwards and always will, but the passage of time and the knowledge that comes from time led me to understand who he was and where he stood.

My respect and love for Coach Winter, meanwhile, will never fade, and he has been gone from us since 1985. The program he built at San Jose State, the one that became legend as Speed City, departed

-114-

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