Kenyon's Smith Announces Plans for Retirement

Peter Smith has announced plans for his retirement after spending the last 15 years as the director of athletics, fitness and recreation at Kenyon College
Peter Smith has announced plans for his retirement after spending the last 15 years as the director of athletics, fitness and recreation at Kenyon College

Story Courtesy of Kenyon Sports Information Department

Peter Smith announced Wednesday his plans to retire as Kenyon College's director of athletics, fitness and recreation, a position he's held since August 1, 2002. Smith will continue working through December and then hand the reigns to Associate Director of Athletics Amy Williams '88, who will serve as interim director for the upcoming spring semester.

Smith's decision to retire was heavily influenced by his desire to devote himself, full-time, to his family and especially to his youngest son, Will, who continues his battle to overcome severe injuries suffered in a traffic collision.

"I'm just making the shift out of administration and back to coaching. In this case, though, I'll be coaching a team of one," Smith said. "We've seen major improvements with Will's physical abilities and we've been participating with him in an adaptive sports program, so having the time and energy to assist him with his swimming, walking and other activities is a big factor. At some point, you look at where the focus of your energy should be and arrive at the decision that family always comes first."

During Smith's time at Kenyon, the athletics department and, more importantly, student-athletes prospered. Thirty-seven were named recipients of NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships and 55 reached Academic All-America status from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Kenyon student-athletes also had a massive presence on the annual North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Academic Honor Roll.

In competition, Kenyon's 22 athletics teams combined for 72 NCAA Division III postseason appearances and collected 18 national team titles, as well as 101 national individual-event titles. Additionally, 45 Kenyon teams earned conference crowns under Smith's watch.

Early in his Kenyon career, Smith oversaw the completion and opening of the Kenyon Athletic Center. Facility upgrades and renovations were also completed at many outdoor venues and additional staff members brought aboard to encourage opportunity and advancement. In the past five years alone, the Kenyon athletics program earned four, top-five spots in the NCAC's Dennis M. Collins All-Sports standings.

"Peter's passion to maximize the student-athlete experience has been an integral driver to the success that our athletics programs achieved during his tenure," Williams said. "His investment and dedication to personal growth and development of both students and coaches has been highlighted by his relationships at Kenyon, his professional commitment to the NCAC and his involvement on NCAA committees. Peter is a supportive mentor, a caring friend and a devoted family man. I'll miss him around the office, but am incredibly excited for him and the upcoming adventures he'll have with his family." 

"Like many others on campus, I have greatly valued Peter's collegiality and friendship. His decision to focus on family signifies what he holds dear, and the personal values that guide him," Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham '92 wrote in an e-mail to the Kenyon community.

"I'm going to miss the day-to-day interaction with our remarkable coaching staff, athletic trainers, administrators and students, but there is great satisfaction knowing we'll still be a part of the community and that we can continue to support the Lords and Ladies," Smith added.

Prior to arriving in Gambier, Smith spent four years as the director of athletics at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He accepted that position after serving as head coach of the men's and women's swimming and diving programs at Emory University, in Atlanta, where he was named the 1992 NCAA Division III Women's Swim Coach of the Year.

A national search for Smith's replacement will commence soon, with plans to have a new director of athletics, fitness and recreation in place by summer.