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Promotional graphic for Lee Smelser Court Unveiling ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023 featuring various pictures of head coach Lee Smelser.

Lee Smelser Court Unveiling Ceremony - Saturday, Oct. 21

The College of the Canyons Athletic Department will officially unveil the newly named Lee Smelser Court during an on-campus dedication ceremony honoring the former longtime men's basketball head coach's distinguished career and more than 30 years of service to the college. 

The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21 in the college's Cougar Cage/West P.E Gymnasium and will be followed by the men's basketball program's annual Blue & Gold team scrimmage. A brief meet-and-greet with Coach Smelser and luncheon will follow. 

As part of the celebration Coach Smelser's former players, staff members, friends and coaching colleagues are invited to attend the ceremony. Attendees are asked to RSVP here

Saturday's unveiling event follows a March 2023 decision by the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees to name the court in Smelser's honor. 

Smelser was hired by the district before the college's official opening in 1969 to provide leadership for the development of the physical education department, and later the formation of the men's basketball program that same year.

He served as men's basketball head coach for 31 years, tallying 455 career wins and four Western State Conference (WSC) championships (1985, 1991, 1992, 1994), while dedicating his time, energy, and mentorship to thousands of student-athletes. His coaching helped produce 73 All-WSC players and earned four WSC Coach of the Year awards.

Smelser also worked in a number of other capacities during his tenure at COC, serving as the college's athletic director for five years and head golf coach for two seasons. In addition, Smelser launched the college's softball team in 1984 and served as head coach through the 1985 season.

He retired as men's basketball head coach in 2001 but continued to coach as an assistant on head coach Howard Fisher's staff for two more seasons. 

Since moving on from coaching, Smelser has remained a member of the campus community and a regular at home games and other COC Athletics events.

Exemplifying the College of the Canyons spirit, Smelser continues to be respected across the state for his outgoing personality, dedication to his athletes and his willingness to mentor new coaches. 

A member of the COC Athletic Hall of Fame's inaugural class in 2005, Smelser is also a member of the California Community College Basketball Coaches Association (CCCBCA) Hall of Fame. 

Smelser and wife Joni continue to make their home in Santa Clarita.

For more information about the Lee Smelser Court unveiling ceremony please contact COC men's basketball head coach Howard Fisher at (661) 362-3201. 

Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on X, InstagramFacebook and YouTube