BALDWYN – Reaching the 100-win milestone for Baldwyn Baseball Coach Shannon Smith was an achievement, but it’s not the only gauge he has for his teams’ success. He’s interested in what happens off the field as well.
Smith reached the 100-win mark recently in a division game against Strayhorn. It wasn’t until afterward he realized what had happened.
“I actually had no idea,” Smith said. “I was just kind of focused on this season and wasn’t worried about that. The biggest goal we’ve got is winning a state championship, the first one here at Baldwyn.”
Building a championship mentality is what Smith has focused on during his seven years coaching the Bearcats.
“We’ve worked to develop a culture where people take a lot of pride in the way we approach the game,” he said. “The kids are starting to buy in to what we ask them to do and work extra. What we try to teach our guys is to play harder than anybody. That’s kind of what’s led to us winning a lot of games. There have been a lot of times we’ve been less talented than some other teams, but our grit and our drive and our toughness is what has won a lot of those games.”
Smith played his high school ball at Pontotoc under then-coach Phil Webb, who Smith says has been his chief mentor. It was Webb who brought Smith into his first job, coaching junior high at Pontotoc, and then steered him toward Baldwyn when the job opened here.
“He called me after college and got me started back at Pontotoc helping with his junior high team,” Smith said. “During that spring he got a call from someone looking for a young baseball coach. Coach Webb and Coach McKay worked together at Smithville, so they had a history there. Coach Webb told me he wanted me to come talk to Coach McKay and from there I got the job. He’s not even coaching anymore; he’s in administration. But to this day I still call him when I need advice on different things on coaching.”
Becoming a mentor
Whatever winds up in the win column of Smith’s career will be secondary to what he really wants to accomplish.
“Getting to 100 wins is great, but at the end of the day I want 100 wins with guys being great fathers, great husbands, and hopefully they learn more about doing things like that as they graduate from this program, more so than the wins we get here on the field,” he said. “Those are truly what we consider wins, when we can see guys who graduate from here go on and be successful businessmen, husbands, fathers, things like that.”
After seven years he’s beginning to see that happen. He has former players who are getting into coaching themselves and into their careers. One former player is a successful sales rep in Nashville.
“It’s really fun to watch some of the guys we’ve coached grow and develop and hopefully some of the things we’ve instilled here have helped them grow and become more successful in life. It makes our day for those guys to come back and visit and hear about how they’re doing in life outside of baseball. This is just a game for fun; we’re just hoping we can mold young men.”