Chase Smith makes his debut as a varsity head coach
He is a teacher at the school.
He has been an advisor for multiple clubs in the school.
He coaches the E-Sports club, as well.
He gets to Heritage High School early every day, and he leaves late.
“They know. Everybody who has been here … they know my heart and soul is here,” Chase Smith said.
So while he has never been a head coach in football, and while he is not (yet) a huge name in the coaching ranks, the Heritage Timberwolves are hopeful they have found the right coach at the right time.
“My ultimate goal is to get these kids to believe in themselves, to dream, to try, and to do good,” Smith said. “If I can teach them those four things using the tool of football … I’ve succeeded.”
Smith takes over a program that has not had a winning regular season since 2008. In fact, the Timberwolves have finished .500 or above just three times in 23 seasons.
That record has created a cloud of negativity. Smith can’t stand it, but he understands it.
“The reputation, in a nice way, we’re not overly competitive,” Smith said. “We’re very inconsistent with the way we perform and the way we walk the halls sometimes. How am I changing that? This is all about foundation. I believe in a multi-year system of being able to teach these kids. This year, it is ‘What is it like to compete?’ That’s our big focus this year.”
Smith’s all-day connection to the school, as a teacher and club advisor, should help in his mission. So, too, does the fact that he has been the freshman football coach for years and an assistant with the Timberwolves since the 2016 season.
Today’s seniors were introduced to Heritage football as freshmen by Smith.
“I’ve been with Coach Smith all four years. He’s very positive, very uplifting,” said Dillon Alexander. “Coach Smith brings a lot to the table. He makes us excited to play football. I’m very excited for the season under him. It’s already different. He’s making a difference.”
Smith acknowledged that he probably wasn’t the most popular candidate for the job. But he had a plan.
“I walked into that interview as me,” Smith said. “I didn’t try to do anything else. ‘This is what my goal is for the team, and this is how we’re going to try to achieve that.’ And they loved it.”
Smith and the players have been working the offseason program together for months. Last week, though, was the first official day of football practice.
“I love it. We’re getting our guys ready to play,” Alexander said. “We’re going to see the people who really want to play for us and who are really going to try to change what we’re all about.”
For Smith, he said he got the same first-day jitters he has a teacher.
“I woke up, I was excited, and yeah, there were some nerves,” Smith said. “There were a lot of what-ifs. You can’t let the what-ifs hold you down. You gotta keep moving forward.”
What if Heritage hired a freshman coach to take over as varsity head coach, an enthusiastic, positive man who believes in the Timberwolves?
The 3A Greater St. Helens League will find out exactly how that goes real soon.
And if it goes well, Heritage can start to build into a winner.
Alexander understands that it will take time, but he believes Smith is the man to lead the program into the future. He is thrilled to be part of this first season.
“I’ve talked to all the other seniors. What we want to do at the very least is to make it that we start the change,” Alexander said. “So when we get to that level, people can look back and say ‘Dillon and the other seniors started that. They’re the ones who helped us get here.’”
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