The AUS basketball championships always meant a lot to Wade Smith. It was where he competed as a young star athlete, and it's where he returned with his family year after year to inspire the next generation.
Smith has been named honorary chair of this year's tournament, which runs March 2-4. The beloved educator and coach died eight months ago at the age of 50 after a short battle with stomach cancer.
"Wade knew that going to the AUS every year gave the kids in our community a chance to go down and watch some of the former kids that grew up in our area play on teams in the AUS, and actually give them aspirations to go on to university and develop their game," said his sister Lezlie States.
Her brother was a force on the court and in the classroom, but States said his quiet kindness went well beyond those areas.
"There's pretty much nowhere I can go in this city where someone hasn't stopped me in the last eight months and said, 'You know, Wade did this for me, Wade did that for me and nobody knew.' And that's who he was. There were so many things he did that nobody knows," she said.
A quiet, fierce competitor
Smith played with the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men from 1985 to 1990, racking up more than 2,200 points. This season, his son Jaydan Smith joined the team.
The Wade Smith Memorial Scholarship is also in the process of being developed at the university.
States watched nearly every one of Smith's games, and said he was a fierce competitor.
"Wade was very fluid," she said. "He was such a team leader and such a motivator but he was very very quiet — in his personality and as a basketball player. He was never one to complain, he was never one to boast about himself."
That's why her brother likely would have mixed feelings about the accolades he's received, States said.
"That was never what he was out there for, whether it was on the court or in the classroom or working with kids, it was never for people to say that Wade did it," she said.
Phil Currie, executive director of Atlantic University Sport, said the organization wanted to recognize the contributions Smith made to sport in Halifax and beyond.
He hopes those who attend the tournament learn something from Smith's example.
"I hope that they reflect on who Wade was and what he stood for, and you know, if we can all get a piece of that in us it would be a much better world, that's for sure," Currie said.
Smith's family, including his wife and two sons, will be at the tournament helping to carry out the duties of honorary chair.
"I remember Wade every single day, and what I remember really is just the way that he walked and he walked through life very quietly and he left a footprint everywhere he went," States said.