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Field of Dreams: Polson honors former softball coach Larry Smith with field renaming

Alexa Belcastro
Posted at 5:08 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 21:07:21-04

POLSON — This isn't the first time Polson High School's legendary softball coach Larry Smith has been on the school's field, but it is the first time he’s been on Larry Smith Field.

Tuesday night, Polson honored the all-time winningest softball coach in school history by naming its softball field after him.

“It was a labor of love. I loved it all and it was nice to see it. I had no clue when I walked in here (Tuesday) what was going on," Smith said.

When he first took over the program, the Pirates had no field. They practiced in a parking lot.

But like build it and they will come, built it and they won.

Smith, who was the head coach for 31 years and retired in 2018, guided the program to seven state titles and 28 winning seasons. So it was only fitting Polson named the field after him.

“He had daughters that played. Robin was a part of one of the early teams during the development years. We have other young ladies that played with him and now we have teachers, like Laurie Dixon at our high school, who was one of his players,” Polson athletic director Don Toth said.

It wasn’t just the name that made Smith emotional, it was that so many of his former players showed up to support him the same way he supported them when they played for him.

“Honestly, Larry was like a second dad to me. He cares so much just about any human he meets,” said former player Kyla Jaeger.

“He says everything is about the girls and he’s spent hours on the field and he’ll never take any credit for all his doing for the Polson softball program,” added former player Lexie Orian.

When it comes to Smith, the definition of winner has very little to do with success on the field.

“Whether we are growing in softball, or we are growing in school, or whatever we want to do in our future, he is one to support that 100 percent and he just knows that we should all be treated as equals,” said Smith's granddaughter, Kaelyn Smith.

“Girls in sports are just as talented as men in sports and Larry has believed in every female athlete from the beginning,” Orian added.

Smith has won titles and championships but when he was asked where this ranked in his highlights, he said it holds a special place in his heart.

“I guess in my heart ... it’s bigger tonight than any of those championships," he said.