Bakersfield, CA - On January 7th, 2019, Head Athletic Trainer Fred Smith walked out of his office in the Gil Bishop Sports Center on the campus of Bakersfield College for the last time.
For the last 35 years Smith has served the Renegade Athletic Department and thousands of student athletes as an athletic trainer. In his time as a Renegade, he has seen and treated most every type of athletic injury. His journey at BC began in 1984 and in that time a lot has changed within the profession. Earlier this year he commented on that during a segment on the Renegade Report - "Initially, a lot of what we did is if they had a knee injury, we took care of their knee. Now, we're looking for why is their knee hurt - it might be a weak hip muscle, might be the foot collapsing...if we can correct the problem we can keep them from coming back."
Smith credits both Dr. William Baker and Dr. Michael Tivnon, BC Athletics duo of doctors, with helping him put together a team of specialists throughout the years to take care of Renegade student athletes. In addition to having other athletic trainers on staff, the athletic department has a physical therapist (Dr. Tim Terrio), chiropractor (Dr. John March) and dentist (Dr. John Alexander) that are all on-call to assist Renegade student athletes with injuries or problems, a privilege that not all community college athletic departments enjoy.
Throughout his years on the sidelines of Renegade athletics, Smith came to appreciate athleticism in Renegade student athletes. Some of his favorite athletes were multiple sport athletes as Renegades including Keith Rivera (football, baseball), Arthur Paul (Football, Basketball), Denise Dumble (volleyball, softball), Jeremy Staat (football, track), Aisha Harrison (track, basketball), Reggie Yarbourough (football, basketball).
The saying he came up with, and one which he repeated throughout his career, came after caring for a sick Jeremy Staat at the state track finals: "Don't train hard enough to win, train hard enough to win on a bad day". Staat would go on to win the state meet after Smith was able to help him keep food down and have enough energy to compete.
"Fred was student centered first and foremost", said Athletic Director Sandi Taylor, "It has been an honor and pleasure to work with Fred. I am going to miss him greatly, he was always good for a story that was encouraging and up-lifting. One of his "Fredisms" that will stick with me is: Continue your treatment until your weakness becomes your strength."
Smith says the thing he will miss the most from his time at BC are the interactions and relationships he built with the student athletes. Going into retirement he is most looking forward to attending Oakland A's spring training games in Phoenix, traveling, reading and working out.
Statements from Fred's BC Sports Medicine Colleagues:
Mike Medeiros, Assistant Athletic Trainer: I have known Fred for over 20 years. I first met him when I was the athletic trainer at Allan Hancock College. Fred has always been known to share a story, even if you have already heard the story SEVERAL times. Fred was very passionate about his job and truly cared about the health and well-being of each and every athlete. He always put the athlete first no matter what he was doing. He was a terrific co-worker and friend and was great mentor as well. Fred will truly be missed. I'm sure we will keep his spirit alive in the athletic training room reciting some of his "Fredisms" and we may even try and duplicate a few of his stories he was famous for (although we probably won't do them justice).
Tricia Gay, Assistant Athletic Trainer: I've had the pleasure and the privilege of Fred being my instructor, trainer, mentor and colleague. I've enjoyed 28 years of knowing Fred in those different realms and so I got to see him within all those different aspects, different from most people. He will be missed. As much as I joke about Fred's stories, I really think I'm going to miss his stories, his dry sense of humor and his 'Fredisms'. There are some unique qualities about Fred that if anyone tried to copy, it wouldn't work. That's just Fred. We're all blessed and privileged to have him be part of Bakersfield College Athletics for as many years as we did.
Renegade Athletics wishes to thank Fred for his 35 years of service and wish him and his family all the best in retirement.
To watch the 23ABC segment on Fred retiring click below:
To watch Fred's segment on the Renegade Report from this last fall, click below.