“It’s a huge honor,” Smith said. “It’s an honor that they’ve taken all the time to look at all the coaches and find that our humble school made the cut. It’s exciting, and it speaks well of our program and the group of people we have working in it.”
When asked if she was proud of the accomplishment, Smith said she is – but also that part of being a good coach is realizing that it’s not about her.
“It makes me feel good to know that people are looking at what you’ve done over the years, but at the same time, it’s not about me, it’s about the girls and the kids and preparing them not just for high school, but for college, too,” she said. “A lot of our kids won’t play college volleyball, so we have to ask ourselves if they’re learning things from us that they’ll use for the rest of their lives: Hard work, perseverance, the ability to work with others – the simple things.
“Things don’t always come easy and can you work through it to make it happen, or are you just going to give up? We had to work through some things and continue to look ahead and not forget where we come from. There’s definitely something bigger than just playing high school and college volleyball, and the girls have to figure out what that is for them. Hopefully they’ve had fun while they were playing and made some real lasting relationships.”
Smith said there are multiple things that go into being a good coach, but her players have gone a long way in making it easy to be one.
“It takes a lot of patience, but it’s really easy when you have a great group of girls like we did this year,” she said. “You have to love what you do, or what would be the point of doing it? Each of these girls has a special place in my heart. We don’t always see eye to eye, and we don’t always get along, but that’s part of being a family. You have to take each other’s good and bad. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. One of the best feelings is when they all come back to the gym or come to watch the matches and we get to introduce them to the girls we currently have.”
Smith said she couldn’t do it without the help of her family and coaching staff.
“I definitely have to thank my family,” she said. “Without them supporting me and being there for me, there’s no way any of this would ever happen. They feed me and take care of my kids and basically allow me to play. It’s a job, here, after all, but it’s definitely a lot of fun. I have a great staff, too that puts up with a lot. We have Dail [Cantrell], but I also couldn’t do it without Randi Sewell and Hayleigh Smith. Randi is my number one assistant and Hayleigh is the freshman coach we picked up this year, but they’re both amazing. I have to thank all of them.”