Girls Basketball: Mark Smith hired as Burlington Central coach
By Erik Jacobsen firstname.lastname@example.org June 21, 2012 7:40PM
Updated: June 21, 2012 10:57PM
One year away from coaching basketball was enough for Mark Smith.
Burlington Central announced Thursday the hiring of Smith as the school’s new girls basketball coach, making him the fifth Rockets coach since the start of the 2008 season.
Smith brings with him 29 years of basketball coaching experience, five of which were spent as the head boys varsity coach at St. Charles North. He stepped down from that position in 2006 but quickly latched on as an assistant women’s coach at Harper College. In 2008 he became Harper College’s head coach and continued in that role for three years before stepping aside after the 2010-11 season.
“You’ve got basketball coaching in your blood, and I just missed it this past year,” Smith said. “I wasn’t actively looking for stuff, but a few jobs opened up. I know they’ve got a great tradition at Central and it was just an ideal opportunity.”
Smith left Harper College to watch his daughter Kelsey play college basketball at Michigan State. Those circumstances changed when Kelsey, a former St. Charles North standout and 2008 Courier-News Player of the Year, transferred to DePaul in the middle of last season.
The Burlington Central job marks the first time Mark Smith will coach high school girls basketball, but he feels prepared for the task given his time coaching at Harper and helping coach his daughter’s AAU team.
“I know the first time I was in the locker room when I was an assistant coach at Harper, I kind of looked around at what was going on and said to myself this is no different than coaching boys,” Smith said. “I’ve really had an enjoyable time coaching women and coaching girls.”
Smith takes over for Jenna Real, who spent one year as Burlington Central’s head coach. Real replaced Stephanie Smith, who led the Rockets from 2009-11. Prior to Smith, Darlene Guyett and interim coach Wade Maisto shared coaching duties during the 2008-09 campaign.
The Rockets finished 13-16 last season under Real. Burlington Central has only three regional titles in program history and none since 1990.
“I know they’ve had some changeover with coaches at Central, so hopefully I’m there for a while and we have some stability,” Smith said. “I think with the kind of athletes they get, hopefully we’ll get that girls program going again and lead them on to some good things.”
Smith compiled a 56-87 record in five seasons at St. Charles North, where he stepped in as the program’s first coach when the school opened in 2000. He led the North Stars to their first regional title in 2005.
Smith continues to teach in the math department at St. Charles North, but he looks forward to putting his stamp on Burlington Central’s girls basketball program.
“All good teams are built around defense,” Smith said. “One of the things I was able to do the last few years coaching women was really establish an identity. We played man-to-man defense, and I think once we get going (at Burlington Central) the girls will play great defense.
“You kind of adapt your offense to your personnel, so hopefully we’ll get up and down the floor and play an exciting brand of basketball.”