Torran Smith isn’t just a coach with the Reeltown softball program, he’s also the clock keeper, a football coach, a man and an alumnus of the very school he came back to coach at.
But his route to coaching wasn’t as linear as some of the others we’ve chatted with. Smith was thriving in the political world and wanted to use his stance to help youth.
It led to a fateful meeting with Reeltown Athletic Director and head football coach Matt Johnson that changed his career completely.
“I always believed that at some point in my life I would become a coach; however, I would not have thought it would be this early in my career,” Smith said. “Before coaching at Reeltown, I was thriving in the political world and I wanted to use my current stance to help the youth. I contacted David Gray, one of my former coaches about my interest in the youth league which led to a meeting with Coach (Matt) Johnson. Honestly, for me, it all happened on a PE shuttle bus. I was having a conversation with Coach Johnson in the gym about coaching. Then, he had to go shuttle the PE class across the road so we continued the conversation on the bus. The conversation was very life-changing and inspiring. After that conversation, I knew it was a done deal that I was coming back home.”
The former student-athlete turned coach was one of a few players on the football field and he recalls being honored and privileged to represent the Rebels daily and on Friday nights.
“I had the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest teachers and coaches. The words ‘excellence’ or ‘greatness’ were used regularly in conversation when they were motivating us to do more,” Smith said. “I played for two great coaches in Coach (Jackie) O’Neal and Coach Johnson, and they demonstrated the example of leadership that young men need to see daily.”
As a coach at his alma mater, he carries the same demand for excellence and greatness. However, he knows there are things he has to do differently because the community remembers when he was a player.
“In a small community like Reeltown, everyone remembers you as a player, but your approach as a coach differs on a level that involves discipline, trust, loyalty, and respect,” Smith said. “It is now my responsibility to teach and instill those traits within our student-athletes, and I believe that is the main thing. The kids are why we all come to work and want to do our job. The main thing has to be the kids, and it must remain that way.”
For Smith, his job is not done when the football season ends. Although he’s officially the assistant football and softball coach, Smith’s belief in loyalty leads him to doing far more than just those two things.
Smith also leads the strength training program with head coach Kelli Hilyer. It doesn’t stop there either.
“Nevertheless, I am a supporter of all of the athletic programs, academic clubs, and community outreach groups at Reeltown,” Smith admitted. “During the fall, I support our volleyball team or cheer squad in any way I can. During the winter, I support our basketball team by keeping stats and go to some wrestling matches as well. I also lead our FCA huddle. I do all these things because I am loyal to the success of our students at Reeltown High School.”
The coaching philosophy he has adopted has lent a bit to his willingness to be everywhere for the Rebels.
He believes that family is his philosophy.
“Family is my philosophy,” Smith said. “Even though they say we are a football team or a softball team; we really are a family. We all have roles within the family. I make it a point of emphasis to the athletes that I coach that even when I am coaching you hard that we are still family.
“Yes, the Xs and Os do matter, but the main thing is making sure that our words match our actions that also align with our beliefs,” he continued. “A team just plays with each other, but a family fights for one another. We all grow closer to Christ together while teaching dependability, accountability, and responsibility that will help them beyond sports. So, I believe that being a family is my philosophy.”
Every coach has a goal behind their motives and for Smith, his goal is to build young men and women into leading contributors in society through Christ. That’s a goal bigger than winning games or winning championships.
Another goal he has is also accessible one day down the line.
“I would like to become a head coach one day,” Smith said. “However, I believe that is way down the road in my career. I like being an assistant coach right now because I like working behind the scenes and assisting in the day-to-day operations of our programs.
“I would like to set up a system where youth league coaches are allowed to learn from the high school coaches in their community,” he continued. “I believe this will help both programs to become more successful and help produce the potential for more athletes to compete at the collegiate level.”
Have you wondered how different it is coaching under Hilyer a coach who has a chilled demeanor during the season and football head coach Johnson? Smith says that both jobs are very demanding but his competitive spirit allows him to embrace the challenges with the job.
“I have the privilege of working for two of the best in our profession in Coach Matt Johnson and Coach Kelli Hilyer. I refer to them often for advice and ideas because I want to learn and become the best coach I can be for our student-athletes,” Smith said. “About the player personalities, the differences between the football and softball players’ personalities are small.
“They both love to work hard and win,” he continued. “Besides the obvious gender difference, both groups are very competitive in the weight room, during practice, and in the game. We have very good kids at Reeltown and I love being a part of a staff that uses every opportunity to motivate our students to become great.”
It’s already known that there were several moments in 2021 that could be looked at but a moment in his career that was insane had to be the 2019-2020 sports season. Smith recalls the strength and conditioning program had an amazing summer and all of Reeltown’s athletics were on fire throughout the year.
“We took some awesome trips to football camps with our kids, and I learned from SEC coaches during those trips,” Smith recalled. “Our volleyball team had a good season, and our girls’ basketball team were area champions and made it to regionals. We had a great football season. We went 9-1 during the regular season and won our second straight region championship, and played for the 2A state championship. We dominated our first-round playoff game, used our kicker to seal our trip to the third round, and played a great game to earn our spot in the semifinal game.
“Our game against Leroy was by far the best high school football game I have ever been a part of, and yes I am glad we went for two to win the game,” he continued. “Our kids fought hard that night to play in the state championship game. Even though our season was ended due to COVID-19, we were gaining momentum during the spring athletic season. Our baseball and softball teams were beginning to play good and our track teams were competing very well at their meets. We had a great senior class and they were great leaders. The entire school year was phenomenal until we were shut down.”
Catch Smith patrolling sidelines this Fall football and in the gym during the basketball season. He’ll even be in the dugout in the spring for softball as well.