AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - It’s a bird. No, it’s a plane. No, it’s Amarillo’s largest Superman collection.
During the day, David Smiley is the girl’s basketball head coach at Caprock High School. At night, he’s the biggest Superman fan in the entire Panhandle.
“There’s always that guy who was the first,” Smiley said. "He was the best and if it wasn’t for him, there wouldn’t be any other superheros, so the fact that the "S" was shared with Smiley, it made it even easier, so that’s where it kind of went, from start to finish. It’s still there. When I see people wearing that symbol, I’m like you can’t wear that."
For Smiley, his devotion to the Man of Steel started when he was a sophomore on his high school basketball team. He would wear a Superman shirt under his travel jerseys, something that turned into a tradition. Scoring 12 to 15 points a game while wearing his Superman shirts, one bad game without the shirt made it a required tradition by his senior teammates.
Then the tradition evolved into Smiley becoming a collector.
“It evolved into it, just stands for Smiley, and then it just exploded into every type of collectible there is. Every type of memorabilia,” Smiley said. “It started into a collection and then just grew from there.”
However, grown might be a bit of an understatement. There’s hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of collectibles in the room where he goes to relax. Whether it’s having a different Superman shirt for every day of the year or a pinball machine, there’s nothing Smiley doesn’t have in his own Fortress of Solitude.
“There’s probably a lot of memories attached to this,” Smiley said. “Probably some of my favorite ones are the ones I’ve gotten from former players. I have a basketball from the very first team I was a head coach of. They painted and put their names on there. I have lots of signs and other art works that are given to me by students. So that’s some of the things that are most important to me, and there’s a few here and there that are rare items that I’ve found on my own.”
What’s more important to Smiley than all of the cool memorabilia, is what Superman represents, something that often gets lost in the superhero’s tales of greatness.
“You know, you always want to be the best,” Smiley said. “It’s always about protecting others and helping others, so I may look like Lex Luthor with this hairdo, but I’m always there to, I want to help people. That’s my calling. That’s why I love being a teacher and a coach. You’re there to help other people.”