The Post: Can you tell us a bit about the team’s leadership style and what you expect out of your older guys?
Coach Smiley: Our leadership will come from the senior group and even some underclassmen. Overall though, the leadership from this team will come from how close and tight-knit we are. This team is like a family and we have each other’s backs— and that translates to the field.
The Post: Continuity and Commitment- two very important words in sports. Tell us how your coaching staff provides both of these at an exceptionally high level?
Coach Smiley: My assistant coaches, Matt Carrigan and Aaron Turnington, and I have been together as a staff for going on 5 years. I do believe our commitment to this program does go a long way, especially when we are asking our players and parents to be “all in” and work hard for our program; we are living proof at committing to this program.
The Post: You been the head coach of this team for 7 years now and every year seems to be unique. What do you anticipate the identity of this year’s team being?
Coach Smiley: This team is a loose group; we can cut up and have fun, but when it’s time to get after it in practice or a game, they are mature enough to understand that we need to set aside the joking around. I demand our identity —year and year out— is playing a disciplined style of baseball, respecting their teammates and opponents, and have a winning attitude.
The Post: What is it going to take to win at the district/regional levels this season?
Coach Smiley: I’m not going to go all cliché with this one, and say “one day at a time.” I want for our team to play/live in the moment each day, I want them to play like they have a goal—a common goal. Whatever that goal is, I truly believe they can achieve it as long as they stay together; ultimately, that’s on my shoulders to keep them together.
The Post: As head coach, how do you measure the success of your team?
Coach Smiley: I measure the success of a team merely by the experience each year. I want each young man to have a positive experience once they’ve been through our program. Obviously I want my teams to win, but at the end of the day I’m assisting their parents in raising a man, a future husband, a future father, and a future productive member of society. The former players of mine coming back to practices, invites to dinner, and wedding invites may be the best part about what I do. I hope anyone could ask my players that came through if I love them, and without a second thought, they know the answer is yes. It’s a four year relationship, that turns into a lifelong friendship.
The Post: Last season did not turn out ideally, I imagine. How will that effect the way you enter the season this year?
Coach Smiley: I’ll say this one thing, this team is not happy about their production last year, neither am I. We are hungry, angry, and ready to compete every pitch this season.
The Post: What do you and your team need from the community to feel supported?
Coach Smiley: I want the community to continue supporting us by coming to the games, taking part in our fundraisers, and keep being the great tight-knit baseball community that we all love at Sycamore!
**(Photo Credit: Maria Latham)**