VIDEO: Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame’s Charles ‘Phil’ Smith Was First Scholarship Athlete at Eastern Florida State
By By Maria Sonnenberg // April 29, 2023
Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame
WATCH: Charles “Phil” Smith graduated From Cocoa High School in 1961 after earning a triple trifecta of nine varsity letters, three each in football, basketball and track. He was also named All-State in football and basketball.
2016 PREP INDUCTEE
All State In Football and Basketball, FCCAA Distinguished Service Award and First Scholarship Athlete At EFSC
COCOA HIGH GRADUATE
Today’s high school athletes tend to focus on a particular sport, but “back in the day” when Charles “Phil” Smith was growing up, things were very different.
“Athletes back then didn’t specialize,” said Smith. “We played football and then two weeks later went to basketball and when that was over, we headed to track.”
That’s exactly what Smith did while at Cocoa High School, where he graduated in 1961 after earning a triple trifecta of nine varsity letters, three each in football, basketball and track.
Those letters would keep finding Smith when he enrolled as the first scholarship athlete at Brevard Junior College, the precursor of today’s Eastern Florida State College.
Here he earned two letters in basketball, was twice the team’s captain, a leading scorer and rebounder and the school’s first player to make Southern All-Conference and All-State honors.
Smith’s record of 30 rebounds in a single game still stands today, more than 50 years later.
The school started a track team during Smith’s second year there and he jumped right in, literally, becoming a state champion with a high jump of 6’3” and a long jump of 20’8”.
With a basketball scholarship, the versatile Smith headed to Georgia Southern College. Smith spent his time wisely at Georgia Southern and graduated with membership in the 1964 NAIA National runner-up team.
Back in Brevard with a newly-minted bachelor’s degree in education and history, Smith helped his junior college alma mater by volunteering as a basketball coach and helping launch women’s basketball and softball.
For his day job, he dove wholeheartedly into a career with Brevard County Schools. The Cocoa native headed north to Titusville to teach at South Lake Elementary and Jackson Junior High, also serving as head coach in football, basketball and track, as well as athletic director.
The job would later take him to another alma mater, Cocoa High, where in addition to serving as the boys’ basketball coach and the first head coach in girls’ basketball and slow-pitch softball, he was athletics director, dean, assistant principal and adult education principal.
Cocoa lost Smith to Gainesville in 1982, when he accepted the director of field services position with the Florida High School Activities Association. He was also the state’s executive director for the Florida Association of Student Councils and the executive secretary of the Florida Association of National Honor Societies.
Tallahassee claims him these days, for Smith and wife (and Cocoa High sweetheart) Sandi, still live there, even though he retired in 2007 after 16 years as executive director of the Florida Community College Activities Association.
Hall of Fame membership is nothing new to Smith, a pioneer in the implementation of gender equity in education and sports and a member of the FHSAA, FLCCAA, Collegiate Press Association and the Community Colleges Men and Women’s Basketball Coaches’ State Halls of Fame.”
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CLICK HERE to see all the members of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.