Terry Smith enjoyed his time at Williamstown
WILLIAMSTOWN — Terry Smith wanted to go out on his own terms, but the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t allow that to happen.
As he entered his 30th campaign this spring on the baseball diamond at Williamstowh High School, Smith was 18 wins away from victory number 500.
“I’ll tell you it’s amazing,” said Smith of what’s transpired.
Smith already had stepped down from his head football coaching duties, which spanned 16 years and included a trip to the postseason every fall. He not only led the ‘Jackets to the state title game seven times, but WHS won it all in 2008 after beating Madonna and again in 2014 after rallying to top rival St. Marys, 33-32, in triple-overtime.
The hope was to put together their 19th winning season in the last 20 years, make a push for Charleston and then retire from teaching.
“I always wanted to be the head baseball coach,” Smith stated. “Then I just thought well I’d like to try and coach football.
“I kind of had my sights set on being the baseball coach and I just ended up being both of them.”
It wasn’t until his eighth year of coaching baseball the Yellowjackets finally hard their first winning season in 1998. Smith finished by winning nearly 60% of his games and compiled a 482-333 record.
“It ended on not a good thing,” he expressed. “But I’ll tell you what, I got to be around the guys for a couple weeks. I think we would’ve had a big year or a really good year. Life is tough. You just have to deal with it and move on. I wanted to set a good example. That’s the way I’m trying to do it.
“I think we would’ve been good. It all comes down to pitching. Leewood Molessa would’ve been really good as a junior and Trip Barkley would’ve been real good. Kind of looking for a third guy, either Chase Barkley or Austyn Smith. You got to have a little more depth at pitching to be real, real good.”
Due to the pandemic, trying to compare his last gridiron season to baseball was difficult.
“It’s just kind of hard to do,” admitted Smith. “Football, you know, you got quite a few more guys. You just kind of do the best you can with baseball. We barely got started. It’s kind of hard to compare.”
No matter which season it was, Smith was always ready for it. He was ready for the hard work and dedication it takes to be successful.
“It’s kind of one of those things when it was football I was always in the mood for football and then baseball is the same way,” Smith added.
“I always enjoyed the practices. The games kind of took care of themselves. I enjoyed the practices more than anything.”
Smith, who said he was over 60, admitted things worked out to where he could retire fully.
“I had enough years in teaching-wise,” he said. “I just thought maybe it was time to go and my son (Shane) is having a baby in August. It will be my first grandchild. They are having a girl.”
Without question, the longtime grid boss said one of the reasons he really enjoyed coaching football was working with fellow coaches. Obviously, it’s a different dynamic on the baseball field.
“I try to set an example and make sure that the players worked really hard,” added the coach. “That was my goal and so by doing that I would try to work hard, whether it was trying to get there early, always practicing, always having something to do.
“I tried to lead by example. It’s kind of hard. You can’t go out there and play. I didn’t want to slow down or take a day off. Most of the time if you work hard you are going to have some success most of the time.”
Smith not only coached at the junior high level with football, but he also spent 17 years as an assistant to former WHS head coaches Doak Markley, Bernie Buttrey and Dave Chapman.
The coach firmly believes his time learning on the job was of tremendous help to the future success of the program.
Along with a 34-14 record in the postseason, Smith won 80% of his games and finished with a 164-41 overall mark. Williamstown won nine or more games 14 times and reached a baker’s dozen victories on four occasions.
“I enjoyed it,” he said of coaching both sports. “(In football) I coached most of the guys who were my assistants. I really enjoyed being around those guys.
“Just seeing the coaches, I’m going to miss that, for sure, because those guys made it easy on me. They really did and most of the time the players were pretty good, too. It’s easy to coach guys who are pretty good.”
Another aspect never lost on coach Smith were all the parents who took the time to help out the program and make sure their kids were where they needed to be.
“Everyone at Williamstown is pretty easy to deal with,” Smith continued. “They are all in, both football and baseball. Both sports it’s the same.
“We have great boosters and nobody tells you how to coach. All you have to do is coach baseball and coach football and that’s what you want to do.”
Smith also was thankful for past and current administrators who made his job easier as well as many others.
“I’m not naive or anything. A lot of things, away from the field, I don’t have to worry about,” he said. “Someone else is taking care of everything. That way I can worry about football or baseball or whatever. You learn about that when you’re here and talk to other coaches.
“You hear some stories. A good example is lining the field. I don’t remember lining the field. I probably did somewhere along the line, but some guys have to line the field all the time and mow the grass. We’ve never had to do that. That’s kind of an example.”
Even though he has a plethora of fond memories from both sports he loved to coach, the title game victory against St. Marys is always likely to top the list.
“It went triple-overtime and I just remember thinking this is the longest game in history,” Smith recalled. “You almost get there and then you mess things up or the other team would do something great on defense. It seemed like it went on and on.”
Having his supportive wife Pam at his side throughout all of this also has been a plus.
“She’s with me no matter what,” he added. “You don’t have to worry about anything, just do what you have to do. Your wife is going to stand by it.”
Although not exactly happy with how his final year of baseball turned out, the coach still tries to remain positive.
“It’s just like one of those things, try to work as hard as you can and things happen,” Smith said. “Really, nobody can control it. You can’t get mad or upset. Nobody plans for that. Nobody planned for something like this. You can’t do anything about it.
“You can’t control it. You have to move on and do your best. That’s the way we tried to talk, just try to do your best. If a guy beats you, tip your cap. If you happen to win, you do. If you don’t, you don’t. You have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror.”
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org