Chamber, varsity team for Kuzma Community Day | News, Sports, Jobs


CELEBRATE ACCOMPLISHMENT – The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce will help the Franciscan University of Steubenville mark Hank Kuzma Community Day, which this year will include the posthumous recognition of “Big” Jim Smith, a Baron basketball player exceptional. Among those working together to promote and sponsor the Feb. 5 event are, left to right: House Speaker Kate Sedgmer, Jessica Kelley of Trinity Health System; Chris Orris of Valley Hospice; John Cucarese, advisor to New York Life; Pete Rossaschi, the university’s assistant athletic director.

STEUBENVILLE – The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce will join the Franciscan University of Steubenville in celebrating the accomplishments of two who helped make the school great on February 5.

The two team up for the sixth annual Hank Kuzma Community Day, which honors the former basketball coach known not only for his great success in that role, but also for his many years of support at the university. .

This year’s event will serve to honor not only Kuzma, but also one of his most successful players, “Big” Jim Smith, whose number will be retired.

On Friday, chamber and university representatives gathered at Finnegan Field House to announce that admission to Baron’s men’s and women’s basketball games that day will be free through a collaboration between the Department of school sports and three chamber members – Valley Hospice Inc., Trinity John Cucarese, Health System Advisor and New York Life.

The Baron ladies will face the Westminster Titans at 2 p.m., while the Baron men will face their male counterparts in Westminster at 4 p.m.

Chamber and University community members and their guests can watch the game from the Baron Room overlooking the Finnegan Field House basketball courts while enjoying complimentary refreshments in the Hospitality Room or catch the game up close on the ground.

To reserve, call the chamber office at (740) 282-6226.

Kuzma’s ties to the university date back to 1954, when he coached basketball for Steubenville College, from which the university emerged. After leading the team to 56 straight home wins, he guided them through a 24-1 season for which they were named the number one small college basketball team by the United Press International. Board of Colleges in 1958.

Wearing number 41 on that team was Smith, an NCAA all-time rebounding leader with 2,334 rebounds, who also scored 2,048 points during his 113-game career with Steubenville.

A Pittsburgh native, Smith had played in the Catskill Mountain Hotel League, where he met a young Wilt Chamberlain, who would later describe him as a formidable opponent.

After playing for Kuzma for four years, Smith was drafted by the Boston Celtics. But the military project during the Vietnam War instead diverted him to the army, from which he was later discharged for knee-related problems which also ended his sports career.

While working for the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity and as director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corrections Education and other positions, Smith later helped minority people obtain apprenticeships and inmates obtain the equivalent. of a high school diploma.

Smith died of leukemia in 2002 at the age of 67.

Kuzma left college in 1959 but returned to coach its basketball team in 1978. When the university dropped its intercollegiate athletics program in 1981, he focused his energy serving as the school’s athletic director, director of business and foundation support and director of development.

His efforts resulted in the construction of the JC Williams Center and many other buildings on campus and he has been recognized for his valuable contribution to the development of a new intercollegiate athletic program that includes many sports for men and women.

After his retirement, he and his wife, Kay, were known for their attendance and involvement in many college events until his death on September 13, 2014, at the age of 86.

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