Gail Cooper Smith
Gail Cooper Smith (1941-)
Gail Cooper Smith was born in St. George, Utah and raised in neighboring Washington City. She proudly claims to be a seventh generation Dixie-ite. Before graduating from Dixie College in 1961, she was the Women’s Intramural Association President and a member of the College’s first women’s ICAC basketball team. That year she put in the winning foul shot to bring home the championship trophy from the BYU Invitational. She graduated from Brigham Young University in Physical Education. At BYU she excelled in track and field, holding the long jump record for many years. She also played on the varsity volleyball, basketball and softball teams.
Before serving a mission for the LDS Church in London, England, she taught at Ben Lomond High School in Ogden, Utah. Following her mission, she taught at Woodward Junior High in St. George, and then married Hyrum Smith in 1966. In 1982, she moved with her family to Centerville, Utah, where she was instrumental in starting the Franklin Day Planner business with her husband. While in Centerville, she coached basketball at Centerville Junior High for three years. They won the regional championship her third year. She also started the Centerville Basketball Association (CBA), a youth basketball program with emphasis on girls. After a few years, she turned it over to the Junior Jazz program.
Raised in a time when a female athlete was an oddity, she was driven to improve the quality of women’s athletics and how women in athletics are perceived. She has chosen to accomplish this by focusing on the youth. She has coached youth teams (city and church) for over 30 years in California, Oregon, Hawaii and Utah. As a coach, she believes in teaching the fundamentals of any sport in a way that instills important life values and skills in young hearts, as well as joy in the game. She has taught all four of her daughters her two sons to play basketball.
Gail is the author of a book entitled Shadow Fall: Reflections on Nurturing Family Values, plus many short stories that have been published. In 1995, she was given an honorary doctorate degree at Dixie College. In addition, she was a member of the Governor’s Initiative on Family Today (GIFT) Board. She was also a member of a volleyball team that represents St. George in the Huntsman World Senior Games. She and Hyrum are the parents of six children. She says that her children are her claim to fame. Her children say that her family is where her greatest work has been achieved.