He’s the winningest coach in Bridgeport High School football history. All but two of the state’s football championships came under his guidance. And today, the field where he won so many ball games for the Indians’ football program is named after him.
For many in Bridgeport, that’s all well known. What is also well known is that Jamison often goes by the nickname “Smiley.” What’s not so common in the knowledge department is just how he earned that nickname. Even less known is that he wasn’t the first person in his
own family to be called “Smiley.”
“That’s what they called my dad Harry,” Jamison said. “It started after he retired and became a school patrolman and police officer in Nutter Fort. For some reason, they called him Smiley.”
While growing up in Nutter Fort and attending Roosevelt-Wilson High School, Jamison said he didn’t have any nicknames. On a rare occasion, he said, a friend would call him Smiley because that’s what so many called his father.
“What’s surprising is my nickname didn’t get with me until after I came to Bridgeport,” said Jamison, who arrived here in 1957. “What’s even more surprising is that it was one of the students that got things going with that nickname.”
Jamison chuckled when he recalled one of his former basketball players from the years in which the football coaching legend dabbled in other sports. The late Roger McDaniel, said Jamison, was part of the assistant coach’s junior varsity basketball program at Bridgeport High School.
“He found out about my dad’s nickname and that’s all there was to it,” said Jamison. “All of the kids on the team started calling me that. I know they didn’t call me that because I smiled a whole lot.”
Eventually, the nickname caught on beyond those playing hoops. Although it ranks a distant second to those who still refer to him as “Coach,” he hears it just about every single day.
“If players call me Smiley they generally did so after the season or after their playing days at Bridgeport were complete,” Jamison said. “To this day, most of the young men who played for me still call me coach. That’s fine with me, too.”
Jamison said he’s never been too far away from home and heard the nickname uttered. And the only real unique occasion actually occurred before he got into coaching and teaching in Bridgeport.
“Back when I was in the Navy I was up in Chicago. I was going up someplace in an elevator and there was a guy back from the old neighborhood who called me Smiley. He called me that because of my father at that point. Other than that, I can’t think of it happening anywhere but around here,” Jamison said.
So does the coach have any bad feelings about young Mr. McDaniel?
“Not at all. He was a really good kid. In fact, all of those McDaniel kids were good kids,” Jamison said. “I really don’t think about the nickname too much because it’s been around so long. I guess it’s not a bad thing because there’s a lot worse things people could call me.”
While that may answer the question about his nickname, here's another piece of trivia most may not know. While Jamison has one many accolades for coaching, his most prestigious award came in the sports of baseball, and it came more than 50 years ago.
On Sept. 22, 1960, Jamsion was given the American Legion Junior Baseball Citation. It was the highest honor given to Legion coaches at that time. Jamison coached Clarksburg Post 13 and legendary athletes such as Gene Donaldson and Bobby Secret along with kids from all over the area.