01/31/11 — Eddie Smith enjoys 25 years at Faith

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Eddie Smith enjoys 25 years at Faith

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 31, 2011 1:47 PM

The camera flashes illuminated the room from every angle and froze the image forever in time.

Eddie Smith humbly smiled as his life stretched out before him in a quilt of faces who represented the very fabric of his existence. Each individual -- family, friends and co-workers -- represented a single thread that helped sew the tapestry of Smith's life as a teacher and coach at Faith Christian School.

A wave of nostalgia overtook Smith, a modest gentleman who grew up in northwest Alabama and attended Free Will Baptist Bible College in Tennessee.

"When I saw all those kids at Alumni Weekend, your mind goes right back to the games you coached, and the students you taught," said Smith, who celebrated his silver anniversary during the annual event. "In my mind, it really doesn't seem like it's been 25 years."

Smith arrived at Faith Christian in the early 1980s.

He's coached numerous sports at the school, which competes in the N.C. Christian Schools Association. He's made his mark on the basketball court and has taken the Conquerors to the playoffs on several occasions, including appearances in the elite eight.

Smith doesn't keep his coaching record.

Wins and losses have little value to the silver-haired coach, who is stern on the court, and also wary of the student-athlete's relationship with God. He doesn't deliver sermons at practice or during halftime of games, but does offer bits of encouragement that he hopes enlightens a player's life outside of sports and school.

"My first concern is spiritually I want my kids to know they're going to Heaven," said Smith. "It's not Sunday School every practice. We're running, we're learning plays, but if there is a life lesson that can be taught, we'll take time to do that even at a serious point in practice.

"You can teach character through sports, but I really believe sports reveals character more than it teaches character."

Smith experienced his team's character first-hand when the Conquerors recently played host to unbeaten Hilltop Christian, which is favored to win the NCCSA 1-A state championship. The Crusaders won the previous two meetings, including an overtime thriller.

The third meeting stayed tight through three quarters. Faith Christian rebounded well, but just couldn't get a shot to fall on the offensive end of the court. During each timeout, Smith encouraged his team to play hard through the adversity and help each other on defense.

Hilltop pulled away for an 11-point win in the final period. While the outcome disappointed Smith and his players, they understood critical mistakes factored into the result. Smith planned to correct those errors the next day in a game against Berean, and through future practices.

That's been his blueprint to success during his tenure on the sideline.

"Anybody can take the title of coach, but you've got to teach it and be able to get kids to another level before you can really be a coach," said Smith. There are a lot of little things that you try to do with players. I just make sure that they play the game hard, aggressively and fairly within the rules."

And teach life's lessons through God's word.