Kenyotta Smith brings big goals as Calhoun head basketball coach

Published 10:10 am Friday, June 23, 2023

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By Courtney Rice

The Lowndes Signal

The Calhoun School’s newest girls varsity basketball head coach, Kenyotta Smith, has big goals for this year’s season. Transitioning from assistant coach this past year to now head coach, Smith said she is ready to get on the court, be competitive, and win games. 

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“She is very energetic! The kids and players relate to her, and they will be able to do a lot of good things this year because of the energy she has to share,” said Coach Nickles Rankins, the athletic director for the Lowndes County Public Schools.  

Smith’s love for basketball began at a very young age, leading her to play on a team in middle school, high school, and college. Born and raised in Coosada, Alabama, Smith attended Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook. She went on to attend Darton College, Tuskegee University, and graduated from Auburn University in Montgomery with a Bachelors in Sports Leadership.

The coach said the Houston Comets’ players Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson were big role models for her growing up, along with a few high school and college basketball coaches that treated her with care, kindness, and made sure she was taken care of on and off of the court. 

Smith’s own desire to be a coach was inspired by seeing her younger sister fall in love with the sport. This aspiration to help others grow in passion and skill in basketball, along with Smith’s love of children, led her to accept a position as physical education assistant at Wetumpka Middle School in 2021. 

“Transitioning from Wetumpka Middle School to The Calhoun School was a culture shock at first, as coaching middle school girls and high school girls is very different,” described Smith. “But after the first few weeks, I felt like I was where I was supposed to be. The varsity girls, the other coaches, and the administration were so welcoming and helped me feel I was at home there.”

In her new role, Smith will teach history for the 9th and 10th grade.  Last year she taught english.

Smith said she enjoys teaching, and is ready to have fun with her classes. The other teachers are very supportive, Smith noted, and help her navigate the new classes. Smith expressed appreciation for their dedication and assistance. 

As a teacher and coach Smith relies on her ability to relate with the students and build strong bonds so they can trust her to guide them in the sport, and in life. She wants them to know that she cares about them and will do anything she can to help them. 

“Even though she is new to teaching, she has a passion for the game and a love for the students; they are drawn to her,” said Mr. Nicholas Townsend, principal of The Calhoun School. “Her willingness to learn from those around her, and her humbleness to accept criticism is what we were looking for. She has the students on her side, and that’s a big thing.”

Smith has an ambitious outlook for the girls varsity team this year. 

“The first goal is to get the girls in shape,” shared Smith, “the second goal is hitting the books and their schoolwork, the third goal is winning as many games as they can. Then it’s on to winning the area championship, then sub-regionals, regionals, and eventually state. But the ultimate goal is to be better than we were last year.”

Smith said she is grateful to The Calhoun School and the Lowndes community for trusting her with this opportunity and for believing in her as a coach. She hopes the community will come out and support the varsity girls basketball games, and knows it means so much to the girls when they do. 

“I’m ready, and looking forward to a great year. Go Tigers!” she said.