Once again it is time for another hard court season in Evangeline Parish.
And once again there will be new faces roaming the sideline, as both the Pine Prairie boys and the Sacred Heart girls will have new head coaches.
For the Pine Prairie Panthers, a semi-familiar face will patrol the bench area, as last year’s assistant coach Mike Smith will take over for Andrew Dwyer.
Smith, who hails from Basile, came to Pine Prairie last year with the knowledge that Dwyer would only be at the helm for one season and that he would be the man in charge for 2017-18.
Smith graduated from Louisiana College last December and through one of his professor’s found out that there was an opening at Pine Prairie.
“I found out that Mrs. Anita West (former principal) was looking and had a spot open for a teacher and an assistant coach,” said Smith. “So, I came in and interviewed. I thought I had bombed the interview, but she called me back, and here I am.”
While at Louisiana College, Smith worked as a student coach for Jason Tinsley, putting the team through workouts and shooting drills. He also was responsible for charting games on the sideline. Smith says that his time with the Wildcat program helped him prepare for the job he has now.
“It was fun to work under Coach Tinsley,” stated Smith. “I learned a ton of basketball. Compared to him, this is a relaxed atmosphere. So, when I came here I was really not nervous about this being my first real coaching job.”
Smith not only gives credit to Tinsley for starting him in the coaching profession, but he also acknowledges the role that his high school coach, Jason Lewis played and how being around Dwyer taught him a valuable lesson.
“I watched the way that Coach Lewis did his job and it made me believe that coaching is what I wanted to do,” commented Smith. “I learned two different styles from both coaches. Coach Lewis showed me how to slow the ball down and with Coach Tinsley I learned how to run the ball up and down the floor.”
“With Coach Dwyer, I was able to learn patience,” he continued. “I was used to people acting a certain way. But, he taught me how to handle tough situations.”
When asked what style of basketball he prefers, Smith was ready with an answer.
“I prefer to run and gun,” said Smith. “I believe basketball is made to play up tempo. I think that is exciting. But, we will see what happens. We plan to play fast, but if it is a dirt show out there, we will change it up.”
Smith is married to the former Sarah Smith from Iota. The two are expecting their first child, a girl, in late January.
“I may have to miss a practice or a game, but that is okay by me,” stated Smith. “Life comes first.”
The Sacred Heart Lady Trojan basketball program also welcomes a new leader to their Halls of Troy. Breaux Bridge native Megan Granger will have some big shoes to fill as she takes over for long time head coach Stephanie Fontenot. Granger will also take over the softball program in the spring.
Granger graduated from Teurlings High School in 2007. Granger has always played basketball under current UL-L women’s head basketball coach Garry Broadhead.
After her high school graduation, Granger made her way to Louisiana Tech to play softball for the Lady Techsters. After one year at Tech, Granger transferred to UL-L to finish out her softball career.
When asked about the transfer, Granger was very open about her answer.
“I from South Louisiana, and we are very family oriented here,” stated Granger. “When I went to Tech it was very hard to adjust. Coming down to UL-L, I just knew that I would be more at home and I would have a better experience, especially being next to my family.”
“Playing for UL-L was unique,” she continued. “We had a lot of success at Louisiana Tech. But, when you can come to a program that can compete for a National title is a rarity. And, I got to play with All-Americans who came to practice and worked hard everyday.”
Granger started her Junior year and was the designated hitter her