Smiths draw a rooting interest

January 31, 1995|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Sun Staff Writer

Mrs. Smith finds herself in a dilemma.

A fun one, but a dilemma nonetheless.

For the 30 years her husband, Glenn, has been coaching basketball at Williamsport High, it's been simple, especially in the mid-1980s when their daughter, Alice, was the starting point guard. It's always been "Go Wildcats!"

Tonight, it's different.

When Williamsport visits Francis Scott Key at 7 o'clock tonight, it will be more than the Wildcats taking on the Eagles. It will be father taking on daughter for the first time.

"I told Alice to have me a chair and I'll sit in the middle and root for both of them," Sue Smith said. "We want it to be a good game and a lot of fun."

After coaching the junior varsity the past couple seasons at Key, Alice Smith got the varsity job this season when former coach Brian Hollingsworth became an assistant men's coach at Western Maryland College.

And while both coaches took notice of the game's date when the schedule came out, neither say they have given it much thought until now.

"I thought about it a little, but was always thinking more of our next game," said Alice Smith. "And now that it's here, it's hitting me. I'm excited. You usually look over and just see another coach. It's going to be neat looking over and seeing dad. I always thought he'd be retired by the time I was a head coach."

The Smiths are a basketball family.

Alice's grandfather played the game in the 1920's, her father and some uncles played college ball, and she was a standout at Western Maryland College.

And most everything Alice Smith has learned about the game has come from her father. Since the fourth grade when she began playing in a recreation league, the talk always centered around basketball. During practice and games, on rides home from practices and games, at the dinner table -- basketball.

"Is there anything else?" Mrs. Smith, who also played a year in high school, is quick to ask.

"She'd come scouting games with me when she was little back when I was coaching the boys," Glenn Smith said. "I think she always respected what I was teaching and enjoyed the style of play. She integrated a lot from Becky [Martin] when she played at Western Maryland and mostly defense from me."

Glenn Smith, who played a year at the University of Maryland, coached the Williamsport boys for 20 years before he stepped down in 1977. He coached Alice on an eighth-grade team in 1982 and the following year was hired as the junior varsity coach . When the varsity coach stepped down after one season, he again was coaching his daughter.

Some of his coaching highlights include a state title season in 1992, reaching the state finals the following year, coaching his daughter and now going up against her.

"Playing for him was great," Alice Smith said. "He was the best coach in the world and still is."

The two teams who will go against one another tonight are similar in more ways than having a Smith for a coach. Williamsport is a young team hit with injuries and is 5-9 on the season, and Francis Scott Key (4-9) is even younger with the new system beginning to gel.

"I'm hoping it's close however it turns out," said Alice Smith.

Added Glenn Smith: "It doesn't seem to matter. I lose either way and win either way. At least a Smith will win."

And where is Mrs. Smith? "Right in the middle," said daughter Alice.

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