OHSWEKEN – Six Nations’ own Jesse Smith, who has made a name for himself in the world of professional golf, spent the day with students at Emily C. General Elementary School. He was recently honoured by the Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation for his contribution to sports.
Jesse offered words of encouragement and served as an inspiration to the young Six Nations students. He also conducted a golf challenge for the students. Smith shared with them some of his trials, tribulations and highlights in professional sport and had a message to the students to be proud of who they are and to believe in themselves. Smith encouraged them to work hard, whether it is in academics or sports and to read often, all being keys to success.
In six tournaments starts this past season, Smith placed 9th at the LaBaron Hills Country Club, seventh at the Pinehills Golf Club 10th at the Atlantic Country Club and 21st at the Crumpin-Fox Golf Club, which earned him his way into the prestigious U.S. Open this past June in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, where he shot a first round 73 and second round 81 before missing the cut. He is determined to come back next year to try it again.
Smiths first sports love was not golf, it was baseball. When his father, Guy Smith, died, everything in his world changed.“My dad was my hero. My Idol,” he says.
Guy Smith was a celebrated Six Nations athlete of some repute himself having earned a hockey scholarship at the University of New Hampshire. From there, Guy Smith, played in the now defunct World Hockey Association for the New England Whalers. After retirement, Guy became a veterinarian until his sudden death at age 44. He had dropped Jesse off at the arena for hockey practice where he suddenly died of a heart attack in his car while still in the parking lot.
Without his father’s encouragement and coaching, baseball and hockey became too hard for Jesse to bear. He quit both. Jesse found refuge on the quiet of the golf links instead, a place where he could be alone with his thoughts.
Golf became a therapy for him, but the talent he was gifted with through his father would not allow him to be just a casual golfer and he soon began pursuing it with a passion. He was a walk-on when he was accepted into Colgate University in New York State as a completely unknown entity, but with outstanding talent.
Through it all, he has held dear the words of his hero who always told him not to let fear of failure stop him from doing his best in whatever he wanted to pursue. That is the same message Smith is delivering to young Native children today.
By Tracy Bomberry and Jim Windle