By Tim Chambers
A familiar face on the softball field will no longer be found inside the dugout next season. Dana Smith has been the head coach since the program started in the late 80’s but is leaving to take the principal job at Shady Valley Elementary School.
The Lady Longhorns have been one of the elite programs in the conference for many years and all of them have been during Smith’s tenure. But now she is ready to begin a new journey in her role as principal in the community where she lives.
“I’ve been at Johnson County High School for 31 years, so it’s definitely going to be a different challenge for me,” said Smith. “It’s only a four-mile drive from home to the school so I’m going to enjoy that.”
Smith didn’t know her number of wins but that number should be high considering some of her teams won 20 or more games.
“My first group of softball players that graduated was in 1989,” said Smith. “April Arnold and Brooke Smith who is now Brooke Reece played then. We had a team one year before that and I believe they played some club ball at one time. I came to Johnson County in 1985 and coached basketball and volleyball before Tom Berry asked me to coach the softball team. I coached volleyball and softball at the same time. I love both sports and embraced the opportunity to do them. I’ve had some super young ladies that have played down the years for me. I appreciate all of them and loved every minute of it.”
She was still in those same roles until her appointment last week.
“I had to tell the girls on Tuesday and that was hard,” said Smith. “I will probably go to camp with the volleyball team until they can find someone to assist Donna (Poteet).”
Smith is excited about taking over the reins at Shady.
“We have six grades that we combine. First and second grades are together, third and fourth, then fifth and sixth. It’s small in size, yet a big challenge. But it’s something that I really want to do.”
Smith admitted that she’ll miss spending time in the dugout with her players and coaches. But she doesn’t plan on being a stranger to the program.
“I’ll be around, but I’ve got to get the lay of the land in this other stuff before I can come and offer some assistance. I’m still going to be at the games so I’m not completely running off and leaving them. Angela Blevins and Lisa Mullins will be a great fit for the program because they’ve been with me and work well together. I can assure you that they will step in and do a good job. I’m leaving the program in good hands.”