By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick Smoot learned many things from his father over the years, but possibly the most useful lesson passed on by Ron Smoot to his son is the importance of discipline.
Patrick Smoot grew up watching his father roam the sidelines as the head coach of Stonewall Jackson's boys varsity basketball program and, more importantly, played under his dad as a member of the team during the closing stages of Ron Smoot's 27-year coaching career in 2005 and 2006.
Now it is the younger Smoot's turn to do the pacing along the sidelines of the basketball court as the Generals' new head man -- Patrick Smoot was chosen in April as the new head coach of the boys varsity basketball program after spending the last two years leading the boys junior varsity squad.
Patrick Smoot is eager to follow in his father's footsteps and to build a legacy of his own, and he hopes that the lessons he learned through observing his father will help him turn around a program that has had little to smile about over the past 15 seasons.
"My dad was a big role model, and I kind of followed him in teaching and coaching. When he was at Stonewall, he proved that Stonewall can be successful, and I feel that same way," Patrick Smoot said. "The discipline that he instilled in me, I think, is still of great importance for these kids to understand and learn -- it can make them successful as well."
Patrick Smoot will no doubt have his hands full in his attempt to breathe life back into Stonewall Jackson boys basketball, as he inherits a program that hasn't had a winning record since the 1997-98 season.
Most recently, the Generals struggled through a 60-game losing streak that began during the 2009 season and was finally broken with a 54-45 victory over Massanutten Military Academy on Jan. 26 of this past year. Stonewall Jackson finished the 2011-12 season with a 1-20 record.
But Patrick Smoot is welcoming the challenge with open arms, and he knows that it will likely take some time before the Generals are once again a significant player in the Shenandoah District.
"I knew what I was getting into before I even applied for the job," he said. "Being the JV coach for a couple of years there, playing in the program when it was a struggling program when I was in high school -- I understand what it's going to take.
"It is going to be a challenge, and it's not going to be a quick fix. If it was a quick fix, we would have been winning years ago."
Stonewall Jackson athletic director Todd Fannin feels that Patrick Smoot is the right man to spearhead the rebuilding process, and Fannin cited Smoot's control and knowledge of the coaching process as strong points.
"He's shown a lot of promise and has a very good style of coaching," Fannin said. "He has a good relationship with the kids, but he demands their respect.
"He seems to build bridges across the areas that we know need working on."
Since being officially named the head coach in April, Patrick Smoot has been busy preparing for the upcoming winter season by providing prospective players with a combination of basketball camps and open gym opportunities at Stonewall Jackson.
While a team's talent and skill level comprise a significant part of its ability to compete, Patrick Smoot says that the first step, for both the coaches and the players, is to develop a mindset that harbors the hunger to compete on a daily basis.
"We can't be willing to settle for small victories -- it's got to hurt our pride when we get beat," he said. "The only way to do that is if everything we do becomes a competition. I tell the kids all the time, I say, 'It should be a race to see who can tie their shoes the fastest,' because the only way you learn to compete and refuse to lose is if you compete all the time."
Stonewall Jackson's upcoming season will be measured by how well the Generals respond to the philosophy set forth by the new coaching staff, with less of a focus placed on the numbers in the win/loss column. Smoot will consider the 2012-13 season a success if the players accept his challenge and consistently put forth the effort to improve as the season progresses.
Until then, Patrick Smoot can only hope that the Generals buy into what he's trying to sell while embracing the opportunity to follow in his father's footsteps.
"Following [my dad] and being able to do something that he did, it does mean a lot to me," Smoot said. "It's something that I'm actually proud of, being able to say my dad was here at one point.
"I know what [the program] used to be when I was just a little kid running around watching him coach. Now I'm in those shoes, and he's looking back at me now. So it does mean a lot."