T-Bird Tell All: The Coach and Pupil
VANCOUVER – The 1982 UBC Thunderbirds football team is widely regarded as the best Canadian university football team in history. The team went undefeated through the season (12-0), won the Vanier Cup in spectacular fashion (39-14 over Western), and sent 12 players on to the Canadian Football League. It's only fitting that two of the architects of this team would enter the BC Sports Hall of Fame on the same evening.
UBC's coach in 1982 was Frank Smith, who compiled a 126-94-4 career record, two Vanier Cups wins, five Hardy Cups championships and sent a remarkable 47 players to professional football. He will go into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in the 'Builder – Football' category.
One of Coach Smith's All-Canadian defensive backs on the 1982 squad was David Sidoo. Sidoo would go on to play six seasons in the CFL, but more importantly became an ardent supporter of amateur sports in his life after football. He has given millions of dollars and countless hours of his time to his philanthropic pursuits. In 2015 Sidoo created the UBC 13th Man Foundation, which supports UBC football. It's widely credited with creating the culture that led to UBC's spectacular 2015 Vanier Cup victory. Sidoo goes into the BC Sports Hall of Fame as the W.A.C. Bennett Award winner for football.
We caught up with 'The Coach and Pupil' for a very special BC Sports Hall of Fame version of the T-Bird Tell All.
LC: What does this night mean to you? Going into the BC Sports Hall of Fame as a player and coach from one of UBC's greatest varsity teams.
Coach Smith: I'm very proud of Dave's accomplishments. Not just tonight, but all the way along. Obviously this means a lot to me too. I know that Dave nominated me and I'm very appreciative of that. It's an honour that as far as athletics is concerned, it's probably the highest you can get in British Columbia. Being from Vancouver, as little guy growing up here, it means a lot to me.
David Sidoo: Football is the consummate team sport and Frank taught us so many things on the football field about life. If you ask a lot of the guys who are here supporting him tonight they'd say they took a lot of those things he taught: discipline, dedication, hard work, you don't give up, you don't make excuses into the business world. It just means so much for me to be inducted with him. He's 85 years old now and he still has great memories. I was asked by Bob Marjanovich on TSN Radio to give my best Frank Smith story and I got too nervous. Even at 57, I'm still scared of the guy.
LC: How nice is it to see the UBC football program back in the local spotlight and flourishing under head coach Blake Nill?
Coach Smith: It means an awful lot. We go out to all the games and some of the practices. We don't want to meddle in anything and have people say 'What's that old fool doing?' - but I guess the thing that impresses me the most is the attention that Coach Nill and his staff have given to the players. Not just objects or football players, but also as human beings. The academic program that they've set up there, with Dave's help is also outstanding.
David Sidoo: It means so much Len; we have so much pride now. You can't come into Thunderbird Stadium anymore without thinking twice about getting whipped. That's what it used to be like. You can feel the surge around campus again. The excitement amongst the students and the facilities we are going to be building. It's a team effort. It's the alumni, the university; it's guys like you covering these kinds of events and getting everybody fired up. It's all of us helping together. It's one goal, just like a team.
LC: Was there anything quirky or superstitious David did before games or any funny stories about his Thunderbird playing days?
Coach Smith: Not really. Dave was a very good player and was quite serious about it, but he had a good sense of humor too. We always had a lot of levity in our practices. I was pretty stern with the players, but at the same time I made sure we found the time to show that we cared about them. That's just so important.
David Sidoo: You know when I played a good game, I always tried to remember what shoe I put on first. Then I'd blame myself if I didn't play very well. I'd think to myself 'Darn, it was the other shoe'. I wasn't that superstitious. I had a lot of faith in preparation. One thing Coach Smith taught us was to prepare yourself and you'll do OK. I took that into my business life as well. I try to do the same thing. The shoe thing is probably the only story I can give you. A lot of us did that. Defensive backs are kind of weird. We'd try to figure out which pads we'd put on first if we had a good game.