SPRINGFIELD TWP. Whatever numbers he’s filled the stat sheet with during his time with the Springfield Spartans, senior forward Andrew Smith’s most impactful number so far just might be 33.
That’s the score he tallied on when he took his ACT, where 36 is the highest mark a student can get on the college entry test. Smith took the test once as a sophomore, once as a junior and then a third time, raising his score with better preparation and studying each time.
Because of that 33 and his on-court efforts with the Spartans, he’s earned a chance to play college basketball at Marietta College in southern Ohio.
“I got my list down to Hiram, Baldwin Wallace, Mount Union and Marietta and then on signing day, I committed to Marietta,” Smith said. “It definitely felt good that those schools were interested in my for academics and not just for basketball.”
Prior to the season head coach Tim Cole noted that Smith’s ACT score and academic resume were drawing attention from several good academic schools and as the season wore one Smith sorted through his options. Marietta had a bit of a head start because Smith and the rest of the Spartans had gone to a team camp at the college.
“It was a really nice campus and I got to know the coaching staff and talk to them,” Smith said. Some students head to college not knowing what they want to major in, while others are set on their career path long before they finish high school. Smith falls into the latter category and the path he wants to follow is one he already knows quite a bit about: education.
His plan is to major in education and become a math teacher, allowing him to combine his ability with numbers and his desire to teach and inspire. He pointed to Jodi Burgess, a math teacher at Springfield High School, as one of the teachers he’s had along the way who have been part of motivating him to go into teaching himself.
Cole is also a teacher at the school and knowing that Smith wants to major in education, he’s found ways to give Smith a chance to see what a teacher’s life is like. “We've talked about it a few times since I’ve been interested in it for a while,” Smith said. “He’s given me opportunities to see what he's doing and when he’s working on his lesson plans.”
After transferring to Springfield from Norton as a freshman, Smith remembers his new teammates welcoming him with open arms and making him feel like part of the team. He’s played basketball and soccer at Springfield and as a junior, he was the leading scorer on the basketball team. His role has changed this year as the Spartans have tripled their win total, but have also seen their approach shift a bit given the talent they have on the roster.
While his shot attempts and point totals have gone down, Smith says he doesn’t mind those changes if it helps the team.
“This year I’ve definitely been different more of a passer. Our strength this year is that we have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball well from the 3-point line, so I try to draw people in and kick it out to our shooters.”
As for what he and his fellow seniors have done for the program, Smith believes they’ve been part of a slow building process that has established a good leadership culture that future classes can step into and continue building. Eventually, once he earns his college degree, he’d like to get into coaching himself and try to take those same ideas of leadership and put them to use with any team he coaches.
It’s a long-term plan based on where he’s been up to this point, what he’s learned from it and where he’s earned a chance to go by both his play on the court and his efforts away from it.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB