Coach Tom Smith takes on Bulldog Baseball
Coach Tom Smith
The UNC Asheville baseball program is in the hands of a Hall of Fame coach.
Tom Smith may be a rookie when it comes to being a head collegiate coach, but he’s had plenty of experience and success during a legendary high-school coaching career. Smith became head coach of UNC Asheville’s baseball team last spring.
Smith coached at nearby T.C. Roberson High School for 28 years and led the school to three 3-A state titles in 1983, 2000 and 2002. The Rams won 14 conference titles during his tenure.
During his time at Roberson, Smith had 20 players drafted by major league teams. The list includes pitcher Darren Holmes, who went on to pitch 17 years in the major leagues, current left-handed pitcher Chris Narveson of the Milwaukee Brewers, and outfielder Cameron Maybin of the Florida Marlins, who was drafted in the first round in 2005.
It was his impressive career at T.C. Roberson that earned Smith a place in the North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in January. The association is made up of amateur baseball coaches throughout the state.
"It was a great honor to be inducted into the North Carolina Baseball Coach Hall of Fame," said Smith. "However, the success I’ve had is because of so many other people. I’ve had a lot of great players and assistant coaches plus support people at Roberson. I’ve been quite fortunate."
When Smith retired from Roberson at the end of the 2006 season, he wanted to watch his son Kenny play his final year of college baseball at Western Carolina University. When Kenny’s career was over, Tom chose to get back to coaching at UNC Asheville. He was a volunteer assistant in 2008 before becoming a part-time assistant coach in 2009. When the Bulldog coaching job opened up after the 2009 season, Smith was hired as the Bulldogs’ eighth head coach in the history of the program.
"Tom is a proven leader with tremendous desire, who will direct our baseball program forward," said UNC Asheville Director of Athletics Janet Cone. "He has the knowledge of the game of baseball and is a proven recruiter.
"We are confident that Tom will get the job done with our baseball program in the classroom and the community. We are equally as confident he will lead our program to being just as competitive on the field,” Cone said.
Smith has indeed worked hard is his first year as Bulldog head coach. His team picked up an impressive early-season victory over the College of Charleston and there’s no doubt the Asheville program is going in the right direction.
"No one is having more fun than I am," said Smith. "We’ve got a good bunch of guys who are working hard and getting better each day. It is very exciting to be a part of a school that is so good academically and has an athletic department with so many outstanding coaches.
"We’ve got some work to do with our program, but we’re going to be competing for championships in the near future."
And a Hall of Fame coach wouldn’t have it any other way.