With the 2018 Dal Tigers Hall of Fame Gala & Auction just one week away, we're featuring four Hall of Famers from four different induction years. Our fourth Hall of Famer to be featured is runner Lucy Smith! We hope you'll join us for this year's event on Thursday, May 17, 2018. Ticket information
Lucy's induction citation from 2008:
Lucy Smith - “talented”, “driven”, “a champion”. These are the words used to describe Lucy during her time at Dalhousie. Starring as a cross country and track and field runner during her university years, she has gone on to travel the world competing on national teams, winning medal after medal and race after race.
Lucy is a two-time winner of the Class of ’55 Award for Dalhousie’s top female athlete. She won numerous races during her time at Dal, two national university championships, two national open cross country championships as well as numerous awards and medals. Lucy was, and remains to this day, a top performer and a decorated athlete who pushed personal barriers and eventually broke records of others and her own.
Lucy began running at age eleven. Her family had a long tradition of endurance type sporting activities from cycling to cross country skiing. She arrived at Dalhousie already a dedicated athlete having participated in every sport she was exposed to from soccer through to sailing.
It was at Dalhousie that she began to focus her efforts in the area of cross country and track and field. While at Dalhousie, Lucy combined her endurance talents and competitive drive and chose distance running as the perfect outlet. Her specialty was a combination of cross country racing (her first love during her time at Dalhousie) and the 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m in track and field.
In 1986, Lucy’s first season running cross country for the Tigers, she revealed her special talents and gift. She was virtually unknown nationally when she first entered Dalhousie but that quickly changed as she began competing and winning every race she entered.
According to Al Yarr, her former coach while at Dalhousie, “Lucy’s first year competing she placed fourth in her first race. By the end of the year she was fourth in the country.”
The Tigers finished off the 1986-87 season with the AUAA Cross Country Championship held at Dal. The women, led by Annick de Gooyer and Lucy Smith captured the team gold medal. Lucy’s performance that year was enough to win her Dalhousie’s Rookie of the Year Award for 1986-87.
In the winter of 1987, the Dal women’s track and field team posted a great season, winning the AUAA title with victories in nine of 13 events. Smith led the team to win two medals at the CIAU finals.
By the time the fall of 1987 had arrived, Lucy was really hitting her stride. The women’s cross country team claimed the AUAA title, and had won all three AUAA regular season meets. The 1987-88 track and field Tigers faired just as well, taking home the championship title in March of 1988. Individually Lucy was a double winner, capturing both the 1500m and 3000m titles and earning athlete of the meet honours.
On March 24, 1988 Lucy ran her way to a silver medal in the 3000m at the CIAU Track and Field Championship at the University of Manitoba and earned herself an all-Canadian selection. Her finish, which was a personal best, was six seconds under the AUAA record. Lucy also ran the fastest leg in the 4x800 metre relay, leading the Tigers to a fifth place finish in the event.
The 1988-89 season would prove to be a banner year for Lucy in both cross country and track. She won every race she entered, winning by large margins. In early October she broke her own personal record by 24 seconds at an AUAA cross country meet in Point Pleasant Park. She raced with record breaking time, finishing a 5k course in 19 minutes and 26 seconds. This would also be the year that Lucy would win the national open cross country championship for the first time. She repeated that feat the following year. “She went to the Opens a relative unknown but when she left everyone knew her name,” said Al Yarr. “Rarely do university students win opens; if you are winning opens, you are competing against Olympic champions.”
It was said that the 1988-89 Tigers’ women’s cross country team was one of the all-time best teams at Dalhousie in any sport. They won every AUAA meet and recorded a score of 16 at the AUAA Championship, with Lucy Smith first, just one point shy of a perfect race score of 15. This result established an AUAA record.
At the annual black and gold banquet in 1989, Lucy won the Class of ’55 Award for Dalhousie’s female athlete of the year, an award she would take home the next year as well. At this point she had already been awarded Dal’s Female Rookie of the Year, won all three AUAA cross country meets that season, performed courageously at the CIAU cross country championship despite an illness, only missing repeating as all-Canadian by one place. For her track and field efforts that season she was named AUAA Athlete of the Meet at the conference finals and had been ranked first for most of the indoor season.
For her top performance, 1990 saw Lucy winning the Class of ’55 for the second time as female athlete of the year. She also was awarded Nova Scotia’s Female Athlete of the Year that same year.
For Lucy, training never stopped. She trained all summer, twice a day, every day. Some days she may have started by training in the pool in the morning and run in Point Pleasant Park in the afternoon but she rarely, if ever, missed a day. Al Yarr says of Lucy, “she was one of those runners - she taught the coach more than I could teach her.”
Dalhousie was only the beginning of Lucy’s career as an athlete. Today Lucy is a professional athlete, coach, speaker, wife of Lance Watson and mother of two (Maia and Ross). For over twenty years Lucy has been one of Canada’s most successful endurance athletes with unparalleled results over a wide range of distances and disciplines.
Of her life in sport Lucy herself says, “After twenty years in sport I have a pretty good understanding of what physiological markers I need to reach in training in order to achieve certain goals in competition. I have never yet tired of the relentless pursuit of the perfect race, nor of the simply act of putting on my shoes and going for a run in the woods.”
Lucy’s achievements continue to amaze and inspire. Her great contribution to Dalhousie in the cross country and track and field is why we honour Lucy Smith today with her induction into the Dalhousie Sport Hall of Fame.