Growing up in Canada, Bev Smith often heard comparisons to Boston Celtics star Larry Bird.

“My mom always said that was more of a compliment to him,” the former Oregon women’s basketball star joked.

Now the executive director of Kidsports, Smith coaches a fifth-grade girls basketball team that has discovered local role models.

“I walk into the gym for practice and the kids are doing the Ruthy and Sabrina,” Smith said, noting the current Oregon stars — Hebard and Ionescu, respectively — who are recognized by a single name in their college town. “Kids can’t be what they can’t see so the exposure, especially from the women who are so accessible and focused on the community, when they stay and talk to the kids, that allows the girls to say ‘Hey, that could be me.’”

Smith was inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor last month for a career with the Ducks that included 2,063 points, 1,362 rebounds, 443 rebounds and 349 steals that were all school records at the time and still rank among the top five in UO history.

Smith was honored during the conference’s men’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas along with some notable names, including football stars Ronnie Lott of USC and Steve Smith of Utah as well as Washington State baseball player John Olerud and former California swimmer Natalie Coughlin. Unlike some of those Pac-12 alums who flew in from across the country to represent their college, Smith still lives in the town where she starred in college from 1978-82.

The 6-foot-1 Smith played professionally for 15 years in Italy and spent 10 years with the Canadian women’s national team, including a fourth-place finish at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She was hired to coach Team Canada in 1997 until she returned to Eugene to coach her alma mater from 2001-09.

When Smith was dismissed after eight seasons as women’s basketball coach at UO, she had to decide what to do next before taking the top spot at Kidsports.

“Do I want to go to Rhode Island or South Carolina or North Carolina and coach?” she recalled as a personal debate. “Living in Eugene as a student-athlete changed my life and I liked the culture and the atmosphere of the community. This is a job I am very honored to have because Kidsports is a city treasure in the sense that it has been there so long and really does enhance what kids can do in the community. I feel like I am representing Eugene as much as the University of Oregon in being honored by the conference.”

Smith was an assistant coach with the Canadian women’s team from 2012 through the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and had the opportunity for another four-year run to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo before deciding Kidsports’ involvement in helping create Civic Park required more of her attention.

“I love the game and I played and coached at a high level since I was 16, but I wanted to see what life was like on the other side of the court,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed it. I miss the camaraderie, the staff, and the season, but I do not miss the travel. I don’t know how they do it.”

More than 40 years after arriving in Eugene from Salmon Arm, B.C., Smith’s selection for the Pac-12 Hall of Honor followed her induction into the University of Oregon, Canadian Olympic and Women’s Basketball halls of fame.

“It is real gratifying to be included in this class of Pac-12 athletes,” she said. “To represent Oregon with all of its success is a cool thing.”