/Smartt’s thoughts on coaching at his alma mater

Smartt’s thoughts on coaching at his alma mater

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Jill Odom

Sports Editor

After the 2015 baseball season has come to a close and head coach Bobby Pierce has said his farewells, assistant coach Mark Smartt will assume the mantle from his close friend.

This is not Smartt’s first time as a head coach. He served as the head coach at the University of West Alabama from 1995 to 2000. While coaching there, his teams broke or tied 38 different school records.

“I am excited to be a head coach again but it’s not something that I truly cherish because of my relationship with coach Pierce,” Smartt said. “I really hate to see him go, and our relationship has been very special.”

Smartt said he is glad that Pierce will be able to move on and enjoy his retirement, but he will face challenges with his absence.

“He offers a real calm, evenhanded approach that I’ll try to emulate but not having him there will be different because we’ve been together so long,” Smartt said. “I know that he’s only a phone call away if I need help.”

Troy University is not only Smartt’s alma mater but he also played for the baseball team as a second baseman on the two National Championships in 1986 and 1987. This was during famed coach Chase Riddle’s years, and Smartt also worked as an assistant coach for him after graduating.

“It’s a wonderful thing for me to be a former player here for coach Riddle, who I admire and respect so much,” Smartt said. “It’s really hard for me to imagine that many years ago I was playing out here having the time of my life that I could be the head coach of this school.”

Many of Smartt’s former teammates were excited when they heard that he is to be the next head coach.

Just as Pierce coached his son, Logan, Smartt will coach his son, Chase. According to Smartt, Chase has grown up a Troy fan and desperately wanted to play at Troy.

 “It’ll be fun,” Smartt said. “It’ll be challenging. It’ll be hard some days. In the end, I think the experience that I got from watching coach Pierce and Logan in that time together as player and coach, father and son, I’ll take a lot from that and be able to use that when I get the opportunity to coach my son. Hopefully, we’ll have some of the same type rewarding things I saw them share.”

Smartt has coached third base for majority of his career and is currently unsure if he will remain there or move to the dugout. He will wait to make his final decision next year.

“I think being in the dugout allows you to see the game from a unique perspective, and you have the chance to manage the game versus make decisions in the box,” Smartt said.

When the baseball team was informed of Pierce’s retirement, their reaction was very positive on hearing that the replacement was to be Smartt.

“My only hope is that over time they will come to appreciate my work as much as they respect and admire coach Pierce,” Smartt said. “That will be my challenge going forward.”

Smartt has been able to be involved in every phase of Troy’s baseball program from the field to the recruiting. He plans to provide leadership and stability to maintain the positive path that the baseball program is on.

The next assistant coach will take on Smartt’s previous responsibility of lead recruiter.

“I look forward to transitioning out that role and allowing a younger, more energetic person to take on that responsibility,” Smartt said. “Quite frankly, my goal is to hire someone who has the ability to do this job better than I do and that’s what I’ll try to target when I select the assistant coach to replace me.”

Smartt will also be seeing his daughter, Taylor, at staff meetings now. She is an assistant coach for the Trojan softball team and will be working with a little bit of everything in the program.

“I’m just proud that she has the opportunity to start here,” Smartt said. “Troy means as much to my daughter as it does to me. The fact that she gets to coach at her alma mater just like I have is a great way to start.”