Revered coach, educator and broadcaster elevated those around him  

To say Harvey Smith was a winner would be an understatement.

As the Concord High boys’ tennis coach, his teams have amassed a record 527 wins and 30 losses over three decades, one of the highest winning percentages ever recorded. His teams have won 14 state championships and he has been named New Hampshire Coach of the Year 16 times. He was named National Coach of the Year in 1988 after his players had a 112-game winning streak.

Before tennis, Smith coached Cross Country, where his teams raced for state titles year after year.

But winning was secondary. The impact he had on the lives of those around him, particularly the athletes he coached and the students he taught at Concord High, was most important.

“He was always about the kids and he put the kids first,” said Concord baseball coach Scott Owen, who was a former student of Smith. “He took care of the people. No one was bigger than anyone, when you spoke to him that was the most important thing going on.

Smith died Monday at the age of 82 after an illness.

Those who knew him best remember his guiding hand.

“As I got to know him as a colleague, I saw that he had a tremendous compassion for children,” said former Concord tennis coach Dave Page, who played for Smith in the ’80s. “There were a lot of kids, not even tennis players, but a lot of kids at school that were struggling and he was supportive and there for them in a lot of ways that a lot of people didn’t know about. He cared deeply for children in Concord and beyond.”

Page met Smith at a beginner’s tennis camp at St. Paul’s School. Page was just 11 years old.

“He’s had a really huge impact on my life,” Page said. “He started out as a coach for me and over time became a mentor and friend. Outside of my immediate family, I can’t think of anyone who has had a greater impact on my development than Coach Smith.”

In the squares, Smith preached mental and physical toughness.

“There was a lot of running involved and if you were swearing or losing your temper there was more. I remember my first practice at Concord High when I went home and started throwing up — it was on another level,” Page said. “The focus he placed on discipline and dedication not only helped us become a stronger team, but also pushed us further later in life and molded us into more productive people.”

Smith selected Page to take over the tennis program at Concord High, which is a moment he cherishes. Just because he was handpicked doesn’t mean Page didn’t deserve it, a reminder that everything with Smith had to be earned to be given.

“There was a time early in my career when I was dropped from the team partly because of my attitude, it wasn’t the best. For the next year I decided that I would come back and make it, I really worked harder than ever for anything sporty. I remember when the test drives were over and I made it, he made a special mention of me and how much I had improved. In that moment, I think I’m as proud of that as I am of anything else in my life.”

More than a coach, Smith was the voice of Concord Sports. Smith employed his talents in a successful side gig on radio, calling hockey games alongside play-by-play announcer Jim Rivers. The duo have announced over 1,000 multi-sport games together, including Concord High Football, and Smith has won three Golden Mic awards for his reporting.

“The important aspect of Harvey’s show was twofold. First, he was perhaps the most prepared partner I have ever worked with. No one has bettered Harvey in terms of preparation,” Rivers said. “Second, it was his true love for the student athlete, of which he had many in class.”

Back then, few, if any, radio hosts interviewed students before, during, or after a game. Rivers said it was an almost unheard of thing.

“Harvey Smith may have been the first station in New Hampshire, or certainly one of the first, to bring the student athlete to our shows,” Rivers said. “He had a great talent for getting her to open up on the air.”

Before he died, Smith’s children were able to visit him after being separated for two years during the pandemic. Smith and his wife Betty met in high school and were married for 60 years.

“He was also a devoted family man and an incredibly loving husband and father who was way ahead of his time when it came to spending time with his family,” his obituary reads. “His kids loved to see their parents still in love after 60 years of marriage.”

Rivers recalled his long rides with Smith.

“We spent a lot of hours traveling to and from the games, which allowed for a lot of time for conversation,” Rivers said. “He was quite a private person, but one thing was clear, he was very proud of his three children, the challenges they all faced in their lives and the ways in which they successfully overcame them.”

Owen was Concord’s assistant coach when longtime coach Warren Doane fell ill. Owen said Smith stopped by after he took over the program and gave him words of encouragement.

“He loved teaching, he loved coaching, he was a great guy,” Owen said. “He used to tell me, ‘Coach Doane was a great coach, but you’re not Coach Doane. Take what’s important from him and put that into what you do, and I think I try to do that to the best of my ability.

“As far as Harvey goes as a person, you just have to look at the respect his students and players had for him as a teacher and mentor,” Rivers said. “There are many people who will miss Harvey Smith. The Everett Arena press box will never be the same.”

site agreed.

“There are many people my age and older, across generations, who carry a part of him with them for the rest of their lives,” he said.

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