Yeah, I know that I’m about 5 days late and about 10 dollars short but I do need to make sure the ADvantage takes the time to congratulate Linfield Head Coach Joe Smith, The entire football staff, and the players on Coach Smith being named American Football Monthly Magazine’s NCAA Division III football coach of the year.
The article appeared in the February edition of the AFM. The site is a registered site but thankfully Linfield Sports was able to get a good portion of the article reprinted.
The first quote from Coach Smith from the Linfield Sports release summed it up perfectly: “a very nice honor. I’m very flattered to be chosen. Really, it’s a team and staff honor that reflects the hard work of the whole program.” Perfectly stated. Awards like these are always a reflection of a team and program working towards a common goal but I do want to point out that nobody deserves this more that Coach Smith.
As most of you can tell I’m a loyalist to Coach Smith. When Wildcat11 switched positions at Linfield after his Redshirt Frosh year (’95) I played the next three years on the defensive line for Coach Smith who at that time was still a position coach under Coach Locey. My very good friend and outstanding DT, Mitch Chadwick, and I would always tease Coach Smith that he was going to be the next head coach at Linfield when Coach Locey moved on. While we were kidding around with Coach Smith at the time it was rooted in a good amount of seriousness because even back during 96-98 we as players just saw how driven he was as a coach and how passionate he was to be a Wildcat. Back then we had little doubt that one day Coach Smith would be the captain of the ship.
I see so many parallels between the ways Coach Locey started his career as Head Coach for Linfield with the way Coach Smith has started. People ALWAYS forget that Coach Locey’s first years as the head coach were adjustment/growth years (i.e. 5-4, 6-3, 7-2, 6-3). Coach Locey grew tremendously from a first year head coach in 1996 to when I left the program in 1998. During that time Coach Locey was still trying to tweak the program to fit his style and when it all came together the program took off again during the 2000 season.
You could say the same thing about Coach Smith and this 2009 season. While Coach Smith was still a great coach during his first 3 years as head coach I can guarantee you that he would tell you that he’s learned a tremendous amount about being a Head Coach and he’s better off today than when he first took over in 2006.
I truly believe the 2009 team was a true reflection of Coach Smith’s personality. A blue color style that will outwork you all day long. I loved every moment of it. I can’t see in future but I’m pretty sure that style of play is here to stay at Linfield and so will NWC Championships and NCAA Playoff runs. Congrats to Coach Smith and Go ‘Cats!