Saturday, January 17, 2009

Former Turner Ashby Triple Threat Athlete now working the sidelines for Eastern Mennonite


HARRISONBURG - Last night during the Stonewall Jackson @ Page County girls basketball game some one from the stands stopped by to say good night to the Coach Knight and Coach Comer. After they exchanged pleasantries I stopped and asked them whom they were just talking to.
The answer was Jeff Smith and I was quick to remember having watched Smith coach his Lady Flames earlier against both Page & against Luray. Smith had been in the gym Friday night to scout Stonewall Jackson as the two teams were going to play their postponed game on Saturday afternoon.
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Coach Knight mentioned that Smith had been somewhat of a track star in his playing days @ Turner Ashby. Smith looked to be in good enough shape that he might could be a track star now, let alone a few years ago. It turns out that our paths were going to cross on Saturday afternoon when EMHS hosted the Generals.
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After the game was over I approached Coach Smith to let him know that there were some pics of his team on our site from the three times I had watched them play. It turns out that Smith is a banker by day and an avid reader of multiple newspapers/sports sections. After explaining to Coach about the site and its purpose, Smith shared some thoughts about his playing days as a Knight.
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Smith will tell you that he is so old that he played his high school basketball during an era where there was no dunking or 3-point line. The lack of a 3-point line did not prevent Smith from averaging an amazing 25.1 points per game his senior season. But his adventures didn't end with hoops, he played football well enough to go on to the University of Richmond and play for the Spiders.
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A 3RD knee injury ended his football playing days but not his career. Smith transfered back home and finished up by playing basketball for Bridgewater College. Don't forget the track thing that Coach Knight brought up on Friday night. Smith excelled in the Hurdles at TA as well before graduating back in 1976.
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You never know who might be coaching or officiating a local high school or small college game here in our Valley. Last night it was Eddie Clark, today it was Mike Smith. On my way out the gym Smith shared a thought on days gone by...
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"Even today I will have people stop and ask me, aren't you the Mike Smith that played basketball at Turner Ashby," Smith said. "My response is how do you remember that from so many years ago. It's been so many years that I barely remember it."
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Congrats on the playing career and even more importantly on giving back to the community through coaching high school basketball.

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