University of West Georgia
Hometown: LaGrange, Kentucky
Education: Cumberland University
Email: jwsmith [at] westga.edu
The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career.
When I was a junior in college I knew I wanted to teach and coach athletics. I just thought at first it would be on the high school level until my last year of college at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. I was contacted during my senior year of college about coaching at the high school I graduated from in Kentucky. That was the plan — to graduate and go back to Kentucky where I was from to teach and coach baseball. But things changed during that year as I worked as a student assistant for Woody Hunt, head coach at Cumberland. I enjoyed the collegiate level, the competition, and the recruiting aspect too much not to give it a try. Today I am in my 26th year of coaching at the college level.
Outside of mentors, talk about one way you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.
I’ve been blessed to of been able to work with some very knowledgeable baseball men who help shape me as a coach and a person.
1. Woody Hunt — the best at any level. He taught me the game and would ask me questions when I was a young student assistant that help get me thinking more about the game.
2. John Jernagin — one of the best Christian people I know, who helped me during a very tough time in my life with the passing of my father. He is a very knowledgeable baseball man who keeps things in perspective which has help me realize that we as coaches have a responsibility to mentor our players. That we have to be more then baseball. We Coach life skills not just baseball.
3. Gregg Goff, with whom I worked with at the University of Montevallo. We went to back to back regionals and a 3rd place finish in the DII world series. He taught me so much about the game of baseball — in how to look at the game and think outside of the box in teaching the game. Greg also allowed me to lead the recruiting efforts and valued my opinion when it came to building a top tier program at the NCAA DII level.
4. Skip Fite — head coach at the University of West Georgia, he’s been around the game for 40 years and has been a great friend, mentor and baseball man. He’s taught me so many things about the game of baseball, handling personnel and allows me to do my thing in regards to recruiting, coaching and input as in what’s best for the program at UWG.
If you could go back to your rookie coach self and give one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would tell myself that this is not life or death as far as winning and losing is concerned. I would also say that you need to make sure you invest love and care into your players as if they’re your kids because you make a difference in their lives whether you will ever know it or not. Be a difference maker in people.
What is the one thing you didn’t know about what coaches do before you got into coaching?
I didn’t really realize the time commitment, fundraising, promotion of program, psychiatrist, recruiting, time spent working on a ball field, or the impact you can make. I thought had your practice, coached up your players and played games.
Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Living or dead. Who is it?
Be the first to comment