Title: Oral History Interview with Clyde Smith, March 17, 1999. Interview K-0443.
Interviewer: McGlamery, Reid
Interviewee: Smith, Clyde
Abstract: Clyde Smith took three coaching positions at Lincolnton High School in Lincoln County, North Carolina, shortly after a "freedom of choice" plan brought black students to the formerly all-white school, and shortly before integration began in earnest. He experienced integration as a coach: the basketball court and the football field were some of the earliest sites of integration. But while sports teams often integrated more smoothly than classrooms because the white community valued athletic ability, some tensions on his squads remained. Black players were frequently undisciplined, he remembers, preferring to goof off on the basketball court rather than run drills, or preferring the glory of Friday night football games to the rewards of Monday morning practice. Eventually, the all-white coaching staff warmed to their black athletes, but not before they dismissed a number of them. Smith offers only one side of the conflict between coaches and players, but his recollections suggest that though their abilities may have eased the integration process, black athletes nonetheless experienced some of the discomforts of the transition.