Smith succeeds Mrs. November in Wirt County

New volleyball coach has big shoes to fill

Photo by Jay W. Bennett First-year Wirt County High School head volleyball coach Miriam Smith looks on during a Friday evening flex day practice in Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH — Although officially hired back in April, new Wirt County head volleyball coach Miriam Smith got her first taste of leading the orange and black last week when the Tigers used a pair of flex days on Thursday and Friday.

Smith, a four-year letterwinner and three-year starter for the Tigers who won Class A state titles as a sophomore in 2011 and two years later as a senior, might have taken the reigns of the program from Janet Frazier, but the former longtime coach who was 11-4 in state championship matches is still going to be around as an assistant.

“She’s clearly a decent coach. We’ll give her that,” quipped Smith, who after graduating in 2014 went to Marshall University and earned her degree in elementary and special education. “I’m pretty blessed to follow in her footsteps and have pretty big shoes to fill.”

On pace to finish her masters degree for teaching visually impaired students in May, Smith is currently an itinerant teacher at both the high school and the Wirt County Primary Center.

“I do vision impaired at the high school and special education at the primary center,” Smith added while noting since she became a teacher she’s “scrimmaged with them a little bit and seen their abilities on the court and just at practice, so that’s been nice to see.

“It’s exciting to already see them putting in work and be ready to work to see where we are going to go this season. We have a little more experience on the court so that will help this year as well as a little more determination to make it wherever they want to make it.”

Once Smith became a teacher in the system, Frazier said her first thought was “she would be a great replacement to eventually take over the volleyball program. I’ll be one of two paid assistants. We’ll be working together for the next year or two. I’ll be transitioning things to her as the season goes along and into next year. I expect the two of us and the rest of the coaching staff to be a good team.

“I have really been blessed with quality and attitudes of coaches who have helped me in this program. Miriam is a great addition to this list. It’s always interesting to watch a former player move to the sidelines and gain a different perspective. She was a leader on the court and set a great example during practices.”

Despite having no previous coaching experience, Smith said her knowledge from playing for Frazier as well as being a line judge at Marshall University has proved to be more than helpful.

“I got to watch a lot of college volleyball,” Smith said of being a line judge. “It was really awesome, but the dynamic is totally different. You learned so much just from being a line judge.”

When asked if replacing her old coach has hit her yet, Smith responded “when I got my contract, it was like this is actually happening. Not just talking about it, but actually happening.

“I don’t think I can make Janet do as many burpees and wall sits as she made me. I can trust her to help make decisions and I also know she might be easy on them. I can be like no. It’s OK to be a little forceful.”

Wirt County will be competing in two tournaments during the three-week coaching period at Charleston Catholic and Philip Barbour.