08/23/06 — Goldsboro hires Smith to guide girls basketball

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Goldsboro hires Smith to guide girls basketball

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 23, 2006 2:18 PM

Coaching at her alma mater?

Brandy Smith never considered it.

Folks associated with the Goldsboro High girls basketball program who knew Smith constantly pestered the former Cougar standout if she had applied for the job after Gladys McClary had stepped down.

Smith always answered "no." But don't think the opportunity of guiding one of eastern North Carolina's most-historic programs didn't intrigue her.

"Coaching at Goldsboro High? The opportunity to come back to school where I graduated from and coach is an opportunity that you sometimes never get," said Smith, a 2000 graduate. "Once I got my nerve, I got everything together and came out here one day. I said 'this is it. There is no turning back now.'"

Smith's application drew considerable attention from Principal Pat Burden and athletics director Randy Jordan. Each knew of Smith's reputation and felt she was the ideal candidate to replace McClary.

"When you have young people who have graduated from a particular school and have a desire to come back to that school and give to the community which gave so much to them, you have to be very pleased with that," said Burden.

Jordan agreed.

"She had great rapport with the student-athletes at Mount Olive College," said Jordan. "She handled herself well on and off the floor, so I think those things are in her favor. We're excited to have her and we think we made the right choice.

"She's focused and has a philosophy, and we're going to do everything we can to support her and help her be successful."

Smith played for two seasons with Reggie McLaurin and two seasons for McClary before accepting a scholarship to Mount Olive College. She played all four years and served as Wendy Lee's assistant for two seasons.

Smith inherits a young team and program that has graduated several outstanding players over the past three years. McClary posted nearly 150 wins in seven seasons and guided six teams to the playoffs.

The Cougars won or shared three consecutive Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference titles from 2003-2005.

Goldsboro finished 11-14 a year ago.

"Filling her shoes is scary," said Smith. "Coach McClary had great years here and I commend her for what she did here. Coming in, I don't want to take anything away from her and just build on it."

Smith expects her age might be a concern among the fans who follow the program. She's ready to handle that pressure along with teaching and coaching a young team in perhaps one of the state's toughest basketball conferences -- the Eastern Plains 2-A.

"I just plan to continue with my philosophy and am not changing anything based on what people say you need to do," said Smith. "I know I can handle it."

Smith's confidence drew praise from Burden and Jordan. Each also said that Smith's age is not an issue and they look forward to seeing how she interacts with the players.

"It's a new team and I think they're going to grow and develop together," said Burden. "I believe she will learn from them and they will learn from her.

"This is a good starting ground for the team and coach Smith."