Ball State Offers Tribute to Travis Smith

Travis Smith, a gifted sophomore on the Ball State University golf team, was tragically killed in a traffic accident earlier this winter just a few blocks from the Muncie, Ind., college campus. As a true freshman, Travis played in 18 competitive rounds for the Cardinals, including the 2006 Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational, one of the NCAA's premier tournaments. Ball State placed third out of 16 teams, its best showing the entire fall season.

Close to a thousand mourners packed St. Benedict's Church in Travis' home town of Terra Haute, Ind., a tribute so large the mass of Christian burial had to be moved from a smaller church. Many Ball State students stood or sat in makeshift seats around the church, altar and vestibule as the outpouring of support for the family was overwhelming in both number and devotion to their fallen comrade. Athletes and friends came from many states, including some members of the Ohio State golf and basketball teams to pay their last respects.

In one of the service's many touching moments, coach Mike Fleck and members of the team presented Travis' father with his varsity letter jacket, who placed it on his son's casket. Travis was also named honorary captain for this year's team. "Travis will be our leader this spring," Fleck said after the services.

Smith graduated from Terra Haute South Vigo High, where he set every school record in golf. A large contingent of students and alumni wore the school's letter jackets in Travis' memory.

In a touching remembrance, Ball State Athletics' home page leads with this memorial piece about Travis. The Terra Haute News and the Ball State Daily also offered touching remembrances of a young man described simply as a "terrific friend, teammate, son, and brother."

The team returns to competition for the first time in 2007 at the Pinehurst Invitational. A mid-major in name only, the team routinely plays Big Ten schools closely and frequently upsets much larger programs. They compete for the Mid-American Conference title at the Medallion Club in Westerville, Ohio, on May 3rd. The NCAA National Championship is slated for the Golden Horseshoe Resort in Williamsburgh, Va., on May 30th.

A Travis Smith Endowment Fund has been established at the Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club to provide opportunities for underprivileged children. Smith was a member and volunteer at the club.