Nov. 24, 2018 — After putting away the shoulder pads and helmets a few weeks ago, new Viking football coach Chad Smith has moved from the gridiron to the hardwood as new head coach of the Lady Vikings basketball program.
For Smith, it's a transition he is used to after coaching three sports for the last four years before coming to Siuslaw.
“At a small school, you have to be involved as possible,” says Smith. “Between teaching P.E. and coaching, I have chance to interact with a lot of our kids on a daily basis in and out of the classroom. You get to know them, what's going on in their lives and how they’re doing.”
And what they’re doing right now, at least on the court, is conditioning. Not just physically, but conditioning themselves mentally to a new tact under a new coach heading into a new league — one that includes last year’s 4A girls state champion team from Marshfield.
“We’ve definitely got some challenges in terms of being successful on the scoreboard and in league,” says Smith. “But we can’t worry about other teams can do. We need to focus on ourselves and what we can do as a team to keep getting better.”
Since 2016, the Lady Vikings have one a total of two league games, going 1-9 the last two seasons in the Far West League. This year as part of the newly shuffled Sky-Em League, Siuslaw will still face Marshfield, as well as strong teams from Junction City and Cottage Grove.
“We’re going back to basics in some ways, building on the fundamentals and putting our focus on improving ourselves,” says Smith, who will introduce more man-to-man defense and rely less on zone coverage. “We have some very athletic players who, with good conditioning and more skill, can pressure teams.”
It’s a different course for the Lady Vikings, who have relied on a combination of trapping and keeping teams along the perimeter. But in a league where 3-point shooters abound, letting teams camp outside the arc is a dangerous proposition.
Smith says he believes pressuring teams could help the Lady Vikings find success and improve their win-loss record.
“They are working hard and we’re getting to know each other as we do it,” Smith says. “It’s always a challenge when a new coach comes in, but they are willing to try new things.”
For senior Alyssa Richards, who is playing for her third coach after transferring from Mapleton her sophomore year, it’s a matter buying into the plan and learning how to execute it.
“He’s pushing us more than we have been, but I think it’s good,” Richards says. “Even though no one likes running, it's going to help us condition for man-to-man defense.”
Lindsey Long, a junior now in her third year on varsity, says she feels the hard work is also paying off in other ways.
“It’s a bonding kind of thing,” she says. “We’re coming together. I want to set an example for the underclassmen.”
Richards agreed, adding, “The juniors and seniors want to help build the program for the next group.”
Another key to success that Smith is working on is communication.
“We are running a lot of three-on-one, two-on-one and passing drills, which helps us work on fundamentals and communication as we condition,” Smith says. “My goal at every practice is to keep moving.”
This year, that could mean moving up in the league standings as well.
Siuslaw’s first game will be a non-league endowment game, hosted by Mapleton High School on Friday, Nov. 28., beginning at 5:30 p.m.