Coach Smith strives to rebuild the girls basketball program




When Coach Jerrod Smith took over the Larned High School girl’s basketball team in 2021, the lady Indians had just come off a disappointing 1-19 season. Coach Smith’s primary message, the importance of mental toughness, resonated with the lady Indians, and helped the team win two more games than they had the year before. While, there is little doubt that the girls program made vast improvements during Coach Smith’s first year, both Coach Smith nor his team are determined to continue to grow as a program.

Before Smith transitioned to the girls in 2021, he coached the boys for ten years. He spent five years as an assistant coach and when he was ready to take the reins on his own, he became head coach for five more years. During his years as head coach, he had put together a strong group of boys. They dedicated their time and hard work, and it all paid off in the 2019 season when they made it to state. They fell short that year and when the following season came around they advanced to the sub-state championship, but unfortunately they lost the game by two. With the experience that Coach Smith had to be successful, he wanted to incorporate that energy into the girls program. 

Transitioning was a little different for Coach Smith since the boys were more fast paced than girls were, but he knew that once he got into coaching the game, there wasn’t going to be a difference. Coach Smith was asked if there were any adjustments he had to make when he transitioned from coaching boys to coaching girls and he replied “Not really any adjustments, you guys are all basketball players just like the boys are. The hardest part is changing expectations and helping you figure out what it takes to be successful.”   

In his first year coaching the girls, they had to adjust to his expectations versus what expectations they had for themselves. “I try to set high expectations for myself so I can improve, but his expectations exceed my own. He is constantly working on each player to get them to be the best player they can be, and he communicates with us as well,” commented junior Abby Holt. For two years Coach Smith has reiterated the same two words to all his girls; mental toughness. You have to be mentally tough to push through hardships because not everything is going to be easy. When Coach Smith was interviewed on what improvements he wanted to see from his athletes this season going forward, he answered “The biggest thing I would like to see is developing the mental toughness and having to push through even when you’re tired. I want them to realize how hard they have to work and the dedication they have to have to be successful.” 

His returning players now know what expectations he has for them, and they know he will push them to their full potential to be successful. Because they are aware of his expectations, they can increase theirs, but also help the upcoming players figure out what they need to do to better the team as well as bettering themselves. The Lady Indians will start off their season on their home court against the Pratt Greenbacks on December 2, 2022.