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Bob Smith Baseball Head Coach - Director of Intramural Years at Middlebury: 34

Bob Smith
Baseball Head Coach – Director of Intramural
Years at Middlebury:

Interview with Bob Smith

Interviewed by Robbie Donahoe

Why Middlebury? Why Division III? Why stay here?

Bob played football in college at Delaware and after college he coached for 7 years at a few different places. Then in 1979 Mickey Heinecken was coaching at Middlebury and had previously coached at Delaware. Bob also wanted to stay in the Northeast.   He had a chance to coach division 1 with another coach but ultimately chose here. Job security was also a factor separating division I and III.

 

 

Early career at Middlebury?

Bob coached track and football.  He then switched from track to Baseball because Wendy Forbes retired from hockey and baseball.  Bob asked Tom Lawson to coach baseball because he had more interest in baseball. He then coached football and baseball untill ‘94 when he gave up football and coached baseball and intramural.

Memorable things from early career?

The drinking age was 18 back then. Coaches would hang out with students more. There were different interactions with athletes.  There are more social problems now regarding hazing and alcohol abuse.  Coaches’ roles have changed in this sense because they have to be more coaches and mentors while staying distant almost rather than being friends.  Coaches have to be aware of social problems and issues that are magnified with the media.

Most successful teams?

1981 Bob Ritter’s senior year had a great football team. Jimmy Loveyes was a great quarterback.  They were nationally ranked in several categories.  Ted Virtue and Beau Coash were great wide recievers.

The baseball team in ’06 won NESCAC.  They went 4 games deep in nationals.  Bob didn’t have to coach too much because the team was so offensively talented. He said they did it themselves and he sort of watched them succeed.  Ryan Armstrong was a great hitter on this team ( .450 average).

Why were they so successful? (1981 football team)

The ‘81 football team had unity and chemistry. They did things the right way and worked hard in practice. They knew they had something special and they took advantage of it. They were good and they made each other better. Even though they had talent, no one was so good that they could carry the team which is why the team unity was so good.

Rivalries?

Obviously, Williams and Amherst.  That’s been the way it is for a long time.  In football, Norwich was a rivalry because of the obvious social differences.  Norwich is military academy. Bob said the atmosphere was great at those games because Norwich would be firing the cannon all game and the Norwich side would be packed with cadets. Middlebury seemed slightly more privileged and wanted to prove something to Norwich, which made the rivalry interesting.

What is the role of sports in the Middlebury education?

Sports offers a unique experience that teaches positive values not learned in the classroom. Being part of a team and overcoming adversity.  Being in a controlled competitive atmosphere.  Being a good sportsman.  These are things that cannot be taught in a classroom. Bob takes pride in seeing his players grow through various experiences.  This is quite a rewarding experience for coaches.  Friendships made on teams and even cross team friendships add to the Middlebury education. Sports also help athletes develop respect for one another in being good opponents.

On the NESCAC?

NESCAC is an identifying piece for athletes. After college it’s something people identify with and may develop relationships with athletes from other schools.  Especially in the working world, the NESCAC network is large.

How has recruiting changed over career?

Most sports simply played with the students who got into the school originally.  Athletes simply wanted to come at first because our sports were so good.  Also coaches weren’t allowed to leave campus to recruit in the early days.  They just made phone calls originally.  Early decision 1 and 2 has changed the recruiting game because recruiting starts earlier in high school.  Intensity has been ramped up over the years in terms of academic level of student athletes.  This has changed the dynamic of multi sports athletes as well because coaches don’t want to take a chance on someone who might not play 4 years. More students want to come to Middlebury because it has become more popular and highly ranked college.

Relationships between teams and community?

Most teams have do offer their services for community service.  Historically football and hockey have been well supported by the community.  College has a lot to do with the community.  They helped build the bridge and also gave the town a fire truck.  There is potential for animosity from the town’s people but the college does a good job maintaining a good relationship with the community.

Other thoughts to share?

Coaches would engage with athletes a lot more in the early years and offer friendships rather than be simply coaches of their respective sports.  The connection between coaches and athletes is lost a little bit over the years.

Also, the friendships made through sports here last a long time which translates to a great network of Middlebury people who have a strong connection. People from Middlebury are all over the country and the alumni create a strong network.

People in the athletic department generally are good people and care about the sports programs.  The people who have stayed here a long time are here to give and help, which is another difference between here and most division 1 programs.

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