ST. CHARLES – Through teary eyes and with heavy hearts, the true essence of what made Matt Smith special to the St. Charles high school athletic community shown with each passing story.
Smith, 36, died unexpectedly on Sunday. Smith ran a personal training business, Premium Athletes, that serviced hundreds of high school athletes in both St. Charles and Schaumburg.
A small memorial service was held Wednesday evening in front of the St. Charles gym where he worked for nine years. Dozens of bouquets of flowers were placed underneath a banner which read "We miss you, Matt!"
St. Charles North head coaches Todd Genke (baseball), Mike Tomczak (girls basketball) and Tom Poulin (boys basketball) each gave small speeches to attendees. Upwards of 50 or more current St. Charles North athletes and recent graduates came to show their support.
"He cared so much about everybody who walked into his gym," said Tyler Czerniak, a 2019 St. Charles North graduate. "Didn't matter who you were, he would bring [this] indescribable energy. You have it or you don't – and he had the energy every single day. It's just contagious."
"You couldn't come here, and as soon as you'd see Matt, and not want to be here," said St. Tristan Cazel, another 2019 North graduate. "...I remember everyday this guy would come in with the most energy I've ever seen out of a trainer or a coach."
"Whether it was 5:30 a.m. or right after a school after a final, we would bust our butts in here with him because it was fun," Cazel continued. "To say he meant everything to me as an athlete is one thing, but for me as a person, he helped contribute to who I am today."
A scholarship in Smith's name, to be awarded to an athlete that best demonstrates his character and passion, is in the process of being created. Details are pending.
"I have not met somebody as uplifting as Matt," Poulin said. "...We love Matt and we're going to miss him."
"[Smith was] a giant in his profession," Genke said. "He's somebody that lives in all of us. We have to carry him on."
"He is, by far, the most energetic person I've ever met in my entire life," 2020 St. Charles North graduate Christian Czerniak said. "I've been coming here for three years and it was almost every single day after school for basketball conditioning...[he was] always doing everything for everyone else."