GERALDINE — After six years of leading the Geraldine girls basketball team, Jeremy Smith has moved over to coach the boys.
Smith relinquished his head coaching position with Geraldine’s varsity girls program to take over the varsity boys program for Joey Rowell, who was hired as a teacher at Skyline last week after a three-year stint with the Bulldogs.
The DeKalb County Board of Education approved Smith’s transfer in May and he’s begun working with the boys since the resumption of athletic activities this summer.
“I think they’ve been very receptive,” Smith said of the boys’ reactions to his leadership. “I think one of the strengths I have is the familiarity with them, being around them. They know me and know that they can trust me, that I have their backs. We’re kind of in this together.”
A Fyffe graduate, Smith played two years of college basketball at Snead State Community College before transferring to Jacksonville State University to finish his degree.
Smith got his coaching start at Geraldine in 1999, leading the junior high boys and helping with the varsity. He later coached the Geraldine girls program for a few years before taking the varsity girls head coaching job at Sylvania. He led the Sylvania girls for eight years before returning to Geraldine.
“We did a pretty extensive interview process and combed through some good candidates, but at the end of the day, the guy that can get the job done was sitting right here in our front yard with us,” Geraldine principal Jason Mayfield said.
The Bulldogs have four returning senior players. They went 10-20 overall and 1-5 in area competition, earning an area tournament win against Sylvania before falling to Plainview in the area championship. They finished with a loss to Piedmont in the opening round of the state tournament.
Geraldine will play in Class 3A, Area 12 this season, joining Collinsville, Glencoe and Hokes Bluff.
“Hopefully we’re going to play up-tempo as much as possible,” Smith said, “play with intensity, put a lot of defensive pressure on other teams, put teams in situations where they’re going faster than they want to go.
“We’d like to get to where we can pressure you from one end of the floor to the other, constantly in your face, not letting you be comfortable, whether that’s man-to-man or zone, as long as we’re applying pressure and making you uncomfortable that’s what we want to do.”
Smith teaches history at Geraldine and has taught English, health and physical education.
Smith said area coaches Steve King and Ricky Bryant were among those who most influenced how he’s instructed his players. He said he’s used King’s intensity and Bryant’s offensive philosophy throughout his coaching career.
Mayfield said he knew Smith had been interested in making the transition back to leading Geraldine’s boys.
“I know he’s going to continue bringing a really strong work ethic to the program,” Mayfield said. “I think he’s going to bring a lot of excitement to the hardwood for us. Our boys are already responding really well to him this summer, so I think we have a lot to look forward to.”