It was a typical Wednesday afternoon for Anthony Smith. Homewood-Flossmoor’s new girls basketball coach was in the gym as usual, taking care of business.
Smith, who coached Bolingbrook to four state titles, was about to take sisters Morgan and Taylor Tuck, former all-area players for the Raiders, to a late lunch.
He invited Alec Anderson to go with him.
“He came into the gym to check in with me, which is something Alec did all the time, and it was just another day,” Smith said. “I told him that Morgan and Taylor were coming back home from (college), but he told me that he wanted to work out.
“If Morgan and Taylor wouldn’t have been here, I would have joined him.”
Anderson, who was named H-F’s athletic director in July of 2012, died Wednesday night at the school. He came to H-F after being the assistant principal of athletics and activities at Bolingbrook from 2005-2012 and recently hired Smith.
According to officials, Anderson was found next to a treadmill. The 44-year-old Kankakee resident was rushed to Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest and was pronounced dead at approximately 8 p.m.
A cause of death is pending an autopsy scheduled for Thursday. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
“This is a tremendous loss for the H-F community,” H-F boys basketball coach Jim McLaughlin said. “He was very soft-spoken, but at the same time, he was able to get his point across. His main goal was making sure the student-athletes had a great experience.”
Anderson made his mark first as a football coach at Kankakee, leading the Kays to a 68-35 record with eight playoff appearances in 10 years from 1987-96. He also held administrative positions at Evanston and Urbana high schools.
“He was a dedicated administrator who always had the students’ best interests in mind,” H-F superintendent Von Mansfield said in a statement released by the school Thursday. “He will be missed as a colleague and as a friend. Our sincere condolences and prayers go out to his family and friends.”
Smith considered Anderson as a friend as much as his boss and was shocked by the news.
“We talked and joked for a while and then I left,” said Smith, who won state titles in 2005-06 and from 2008-11 under Anderson at Bolingbrook. “The next thing I know I get a phone call that he’s gone. I just saw him.
“I’m waiting for someone to say, ‘Hey, it was something else, it’s not true.’ He was always there like a coach, wanting to do the best for the kids and the school. I can’t believe it.”