For parts of three decades, football players at Southampton High School learned much more than blocking and tackling or running and passing. Under the guidance of longtime coach Herb Goldsmith, they learned to pay very close attention to details.
"A bus to road games would never leave at 9 o'clock; it would be 9:02 because he wanted to emphasize to kids the way we do things," recalled Chris Sweet, who replaced Goldsmith as the school's football coach in 1979. "A Southampton boy would be on time."
Goldsmith, a Southampton resident who coached the Mariners from 1955 to 1978 compiling a 130-50-8 record and .713 winning percentage, died in Southampton on July 20 due to complications from pneumonia. He was 90.
"Herb would plan practice to the minute and post the schedule on his office door. The kids were required to check it every day so they knew exactly what to expect. Everything was well-organized," Sweet said. "If you weren't on time for the bus, he'd leave you behind. If you didn't come to practice on time, you didn't practice."
During his coaching career at Southampton, Goldsmith's teams won 13 league championships and had four undefeated seasons. In 2009, Goldsmith was inducted into the National Football Foundation Long Island High School Football Hall of Fame.
"He could get the kids to believe that what they were doing was important. He was ahead of his time. He was an innovator," Sweet said of Goldsmith's coaching style. "He was throwing the ball when others were running. At the end of his career, when everyone was throwing, he was running out of the wishbone formation."
Goldsmith was born in 1922 in Southold and earned 15 varsity letters in sports at Greenport High School. After graduating, he served in the South Pacific for the Navy in World War II. After, he graduated from Ithaca College and held assistant football coaching jobs at Riverhead and Amityville high schools before coming to Southampton in 1955.
He turned the Mariners into an East End powerhouse and made football a focal point in the community. "After every game, he'd invite coaches, players and people in town to his finished cellar," Sweet said. "He was truly a son of Southampton."
Goldsmith was predeceased by his wife of 63 years, Dorothy, and is survived by daughters, Linda Goldsmith of Southampton and Janice Opatovsky of Shoreham; a son, Jeffrey Goldsmith of Shirley; a son-in-law, Peter Opatovsky; a daughter-in-law Linda M. Goldsmith; and five grandchildren.
Goldsmith's funeral was at O'Connell Funeral Home in Southampton on July 25 and, at the behest of the family, began precisely at 10:03 a.m.