Tom Smith, the former head coach for Men’s basketball at Western, emerges from retirement to take on coaching the Women’s tennis team.
After 25 years at the helm of the Men’s basketball team at Western, Smith retired last March. He leads the program in all-time wins, accumulating over 600 in his 38 years of being a head coach.
Smith was officially retired for approximately one month, 24 days and 12 hours.
“It didn’t last very long. I had a hard time; I missed the interaction with people, the student-athletes, and the staff. Other than a little golf, I didn’t have much to do.” Smith said.
But it is no secret that Smith is not a new guy when it comes to tennis. He coached the Men’s team at Valparaiso for three seasons. After his squad won the conference title in 1966, he was named the Indiana Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year. Although he does not claim to have the same expertise level as former tennis head coach Ron Selkirk, he does have close to 50 years of collegiate coaching experience to bring to the table.
“I think the easiest part for me will be the coaching part. I’ve been a collegiate level coach for 46 or so years.”
His wife, Patsy, was also a former tennis head coach for Western. She coached the Griffons and led them to their first NCAA Tournament in 1998.
To go along with the addition of Smith, will be Raven Searcy, a four-year tennis player from Northwest. Searcy will be the graduate assistant for the team.
Searcy played at Central High School where she was an All-State performer twice and racked up a record of 31-9. She went on to play for the Bearcats in the early 2000s, during which she was named to multiple All-Conference teams.
However, Smith’s main goal for the season isn’t to necessarily turn the program into an MIAA Championship team, but to make the ladies feel as if they’re a part of Western Athletics.
“I want to get them to feel a part of the athletic program. Without an on-campus facility, players don’t feel as much a part. I can safely say that because, in the two weeks I’ve done it, it is just difficult. We go off campus to practice and we are going to play off campus.”
Director of Athletics, Kurt McGuffin, also feels the same way.
“I think that tennis, since they go off campus to practice, they’re never really around or a part of [Western Athletics]. I think with Smith having an office on campus and having the interaction day-to-day will help with that,” McGuffin said.
On a lighter note, Coach Smith says he plans on inducing a little fun into the team and wants to help them feel better about themselves this season.
“He has a winning mentality and many years of being a coach which makes the experience enjoyable for me,” junior Kayla Dysart said. “[Selkirk] was much more laid back and quiet while Coach Smith is very adamant about getting our personalities out of us and being a bit more outgoing.”
The Griffons are set to play in the Bethany Swedes Invitational in Lindsborg, KS this weekend at noon.