Coaches Corner: Kermit Smith – Lander University


smithkermit-head09.jpgCoaches Corner – Kermit Smith, Lander University: New Lander skipper Kermit Smith is in the Palmetto State for the first year after a landmark run at Division II Belmont Abbey. As a young coach for the Crusaders, he transformed that program into a National contender, as evidenced by their run into the DII World Series this spring…

DP-How many years have you been in coaching? What got you into the business?

KS-This is my 10th year in coaching, 9th as a Head Coach. I couldn’t play anymore and wanted to stay in the game. 

DP-What is the most rewarding thing about being a baseball coach? 

KS-To watch the maturation process of young men. I often say to the student-athletes that we are recruiting that it is not like you can have a team meeting and say, "Alright guys, tonight we are going to learn life." This is something that they pick up from all the people that they are surrounded with throughout their life. Some of those people are their coaching staff and we take that very seriously. To track their maturation and know that you had something to do with that person that is up there on graduation day is humbling.

DP-What does the term "coach" mean to you? 

KS-Father with a baseball background

DP-What is something you wish everyone knew about your profession?  

smithk-family09.jpgKS-All coach’s wives should be recognized as assistant coaches.

DP-We all know there is very little money in getting started in coaching at the college level yet the time involved is mind-boggling, why did you do it?

KS-I don’t want to sound like a cliché’ but, "For the love of the game."

DP-How do you balance the time demands of coaching and your personal life?

KS-You might need to ask my wife if I do balance that or not. When I can get home I get home. I make most of my recruiting calls at night from home. It is not hard really because I love and cherish my time with my wife and son.

DP-You built a program from virtually scratch at Belmont Abbey into a national contender, tell us what that journey was like:

smithk-presser09.jpgKS-The journey was fun at times and miserable at times. The early days of laying the foundation and setting the standard for which we would hold ourselves were long. Once I found someone that shared my National Championship vision, Chris Anderson (My recruiting coordinator, pitching coach, and friend), it really gained momentum and started to get fun. I wish I could say that when we took the field at the World Series it was a great sense of accomplishment, but as a coach we were there to win a National Championship not pat ourselves on the back. But overall, I would not trade one thing that happened at Belmont Abbey for anything in the world. The journey was an education.

DP-Tell us what Lander must do to get into the same World Series you played in this past spring:

KS-My beliefs are entrenched in family and hard work. We need to get as many good people as we can into our program who want to work daily towards winning a National Championship. It is not easy to hold yourself to that standard everyday not only as an athlete but as a person and a student too. We ask each player to hold themselves accountable to be the best son they can be to their parents, the best student they can be in the classroom, and the best athlete they can be on the field. When we have a team full of these guys we will be in a position to get to the World Series.

DP-When you hear the expression "old school baseball", what does that phrase mean to you? 

KS-I think "brutally honest." Constructive criticism is not designed towards hurting feelings it is designed to make players better. I think that people take honest answers and constructive criticism as negative. When in my opinion is the farthest thing from the truth.

DP-What is the definition of a "student-athlete"? 

KS-To repeat an earlier answer:

1-To be the best son that you can be to your parents

2-To be the best student that you can be in the classroom

3-To be the best athlete that you can be on the field

DP-What is your most memorable experience as a baseball coach? 

KS-The experience of leaving Belmont Abbey for Lander University. After being at the same place for nine years you develop relationships with a lot of people; players, parents, alumni, administrators, and people in the community. The amount of people that reached out to my family and me to say that they would miss us was humbling. The excitement of going to Lander University and coaching in the Peach Belt in a new stadium was incredible. The emotional transition is something that I will never forget.

DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a baseball coach and why? 

smithk-staff09.jpgKS-Chris Anderson, my recruiting coordinator and pitching coach. He walked into Belmont Abbey 5½ years ago, pinned his ears back and worked diligently towards putting us in a position to win a National Championship everyday, when at the time there was probably no other person in the world who believed we could do it except him and me. Five years later we were one of three teams left in the country. There has never been a day that he didn’t hold himself or our players to that standard. 

DP-Who are the best three players you have coached against? 

KS-Shannon Wilkerson, Augusta State University, Eric Lovett, Mount Olive College, Kevin Pucetas-Limestone College

DP-What does it mean to be a good teammate and is that important? 

KS-To be accountable to the rules and regulations of the program and to be internally motivated to be a better player. Yes, it’s imperative.

DP-Do you have any superstitions? If so, what?

KS-I have an undershirt that I wear on game days. The rest of the superstitions, I kind of pick up throughout the season. If things are rolling pretty well then we usually don’t change what we are doing.

DP-What do you see as the biggest difference in high school-aged players today versus when you played? 

KS-We have a specific player that we recruit so I don’t know that I can comment on that. We want a Hard-Nosed player that wants to put his hard hat on daily. I think that this question is probably better served to be answered by a high school coach who doesn’t get to "recruit" his players.

DP-Now switching gears, think back to your days as a baseball player, please list any notable accolades: 

KS-I think that the accolade that I was most proud of is being a Captain on both my team at Pfeiffer University and DeSoto County High School, Arcadia, FL.

DP-What is your greatest high school thrill? 

KS-Everyday that I was fortunate enough to step on the field.

DP-What is your greatest thrill, or two, beyond high school?

KS-November 5, 2005, my wedding day and June 11, 2008, my son’s birthday.

DP-Who were the three best players you played against? 

KS-Vaughn Schill-Duke University, Mike Christianson-Florida Southern, Jeff Baker-Clemson

DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a person and why? 

KS-My wife, her dedication to our family and her faith is inspiring.

DP-What MLB feat in history do you wish you’d been inside the stadium to witness and why? 

KS-Joe Carter’s home run to win the World Series.

DP-Who is you favorite athlete outside of baseball?

KS-Devin Hester

DP-Who is your favorite MLB pitcher and position player to watch and why? 

KS-Chase Utley-He is the closest thing to what I teach at the plate. Roy Halladay-Why Not?

DP-Who is your favorite MLB team? 

KS-Toronto Blue Jays

DP-What is your favorite sport to play other than baseball? 

KS-Any sport with my Son!

DP-What is your favorite sport to watch other than baseball? 


DP-What are some of your hobbies? 


DP-What is your favorite movie?

KS-Bull Durham

DP-Who is your favorite actor? Actress?

KS-Probably Kevin Costner because of the Bull Durham reference.

DP-What is your favorite meal?

KS-Chicken Parmesan-That my wife makes!

DP-What is something people don’t know about you? 

KS-I am related to Francis Scott Key-The writer of the National Anthem. So every time it is played before a game I’ve got to think that we have a little advantage.

DP-If you could have dinner with three people in history, who would they be and why?     

KS-Ron Frazier-Former Head Baseball Coach at University of Miami-I grew up watching the Canes play and him coach. He built that program to what it is today. John Wooden-Former Head Coach of UCLA basketball-Just to listen. David Robinson-Center for the World Champion San Antonio Spurs-I don’t think that you can do it better than he did. He was a champion on and off the court. 

DP-Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

KS-Coaching baseball

DP-Give a high school player who is reading this article one piece of advice. 

KS-Embrace the process of being good at baseball.

DP-Thank you Coach Smith. Your responses are good examples as to how to love the game and those around you. DP appreciates your time!