Mr. Smith Reaches the End Zone: Lynn Classical’s Popular Powder Puff Coach Will Be Stepping Down After 14 Years

Rob Smith, who has led the Lynn Classical Powder Puff team for more than a decade in its annual flag football game versus Lynn English, is stepping down as head coach.

Smith has made the annual Powder Puff football experience a fun and memorable one for Lynn Classical seniors who start looking forward to representing their school years in advance.

Rob Smith will be stepping down
as Classical Powder Puff coach.

But on Saturday, Nov. 20, Rob Smith will walk off Manning Field for the final time as Classical’s universally admired head coach. Smith’s 14th Powder Puff game will be his last.

“This will be my very last year, I’m retiring,” said Smith, who works at Classical as a campus monitor and is also the girls’ junior varsity basketball coach. “It’s time to pass it on. You have to know when to fold.”

The 2020 Classical-English game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though there was a Classical junior-senior game.

“We have some of those juniors returning to play this year,” said Smith, a 1982 graduate of Classical who previously coached in the West Lynn Rams Pop Warner organization for 10 seasons. One of his premier Pop Warner players was his son, Cam Smith, a 2009 graduate who captained the Classical football and basketball teams and went on to play football at Curry College.

Practices Begin for the Big Game

Rob Smith is being assisted on the Classical staff by assistant boys basketball coach Rod Valrie Jr. and Derek Edmonds, who like Smith, are Classical graduates.

The coaches have begun conducting football practices with 70 seniors on their roster, the large number a tribute to Smith’s ability to generate considerable enthusiasm for the game each year.

“We have a really good team,” said Smith.

Would you say your team is the favorite to win this year’s game, Coach Smith?

“I’m not going to say we’re the favorite because I don’t know what English has,” he replied, not wanting to create any bulletin board material. “It’s going to be a great time. This game is a crosstown rivalry, nothing but fun for all the players for bragging rights to the city for that year.

“It’s going to be bittersweet to coach for the last time,” added Smith. “It’s going to be a very emotional day. A lot of our former players have told me that they’re going to be there.”

His first game was in 2008

Rob Smith started coaching the Powder Puff team in 2008 as an assistant to Jay Alicudo, a former outstanding basketball and football player at Classical who was a member of Classical’s 1976 state championship football team.

“Jay asked me and Louis Reynolds to come on board and help him coach,” recalled Smith. “The program was going under, and Jay kind of revived it.”

Following Mr. Alicudo’s untimely passing in 2013, Smith said he and Reynolds thought about giving up their coaching positions, “but we both decided that it wouldn’t be the right thing to do, and I took the head coaching spot, and I’ve been at it ever since.”

Smith said he starts building the team each autumn right after Halloween. The Rams practice 4-5 days a week, a couple of hours each day.

“Right now, we’re fortunate enough to go inside and practice at Lynn Tech fieldhouse,” said Smith.

This year, Smith has added a Powder Puff alumna, Devyn Astuccio, to his coaching staff. Astuccio is one of Classical’s all-time greatest track athletes and holds the school record in the 100-meter-high hurdles.

“Devyn might be the best running back we’ve ever had,” said Smith.

Keeping his Word

Interestingly, Smith said he seriously considered giving up his position three years ago.

“I told one of our current players, [volleyball standout] Reese Brinkler, when she was a freshman that I was going to quit,” recalled Smith. “She said to me, ‘wow, you’re going to quit before I play’, and I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’ll stay until you play, and then we’ll walk off together’ – and that’s the plan, and that’s what we’re going with.”

Brinkler, younger sister of former GBL All-Star basketball player Sailor Brinkler and Classical standout Quinn Brinkler, will start at wide receiver for Classical and be one of her team’s chief offensive threats in the game.

The Tradition will Continue

Rob Smith’s exit comes one year before current junior sports star Ava Thurman is eligible for the game. Ava is the daughter of former Boston College All-American football player Tony Thurman.

“No, I won’t be there to coach her,” said Smith.

But knowing Rob Smith, he will be in the stadium for the 2022 Powder Puff game rooting on the Rams and making sure the tradition of Powder Puff football carries on for years to come.

Perhaps it’s time to name the game’s championship trophy after Rob Smith, who is truly deserving of such an immense honor.

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