Finishing strong

Strasburg's Ryan Smoot is fouled by Clarke County's Colton Chrane as he goes up under the basket during last season's game in January. Rich Cooley/Daily file

STRASBURG — Ryan Smoot has been around Strasburg athletics his whole life.

The Strasburg senior, whose father Jeff is the baseball coach and assistant athletic director at the school, has grown up watching many athletes come and go and lead the Rams in pretty much every sport. Now it’s his time to do the same, and it’s one of the reasons he takes real pride in putting on the purple and white uniforms in each of his three sports.

“It’s awesome,” Smoot said. “Putting the uniform on, even at practice, is something that I don’t take for granted and hopefully our team doesn’t take for granted. As the months wind down here you find out it goes by fast, and you just find out how special it is.”

Smoot plays football, basketball and baseball, and he doesn’t have to do it alone. His twin brother, Mark, plays the same three sports. Both play big roles on the baseball and football teams.

Mark is the quarterback and Ryan the tight end in football. In baseball, Mark is one of Strasburg’s top pitchers and Ryan is the catcher, and they helped lead the Rams to the Group 2A state final last year.

“Just having him around and getting to succeed a lot with him has been awesome,” Ryan Smoot said. “You’re going to remember him pitching to you in the state championship for the rest of your life, and throwing you the game-winning touchdown conversion against Central. I know you think you’re going to remember everything from high school, but in 30 years those are things you’re going to remember.”

Now that football season is over, Smoot is already gearing up for his final season of basketball. The Rams start at home on Tuesday against Rappahannock County.

Last year, the 6-foot-2 Smoot led the team in scoring and was one of the top rebounders. Smoot said that basketball hasn’t come easy for him. He said that his first varsity season as a sophomore was a big learning experience.

“I was not very good as a sophomore. I think I worked hard and that was about it,” Smoot said. “I was able to play some minutes for us. I kind of knew after that year, that I needed to be better, especially offensively.”

Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said one of Smoot’s biggest strengths is his ability to play inside and outside.

For the last two years, Smoot was able to learn from center Jonathan Kloosterman, who graduated last year and is now playing football at JMU. Kloosterman suffered a leg injury in football last year and missed part of the basketball season, but Smoot was one of the players to step up in his absence.

“I learned from Jonathan a lot,” Smoot said. “In all sports, hanging outside of sports as well. We were friends since forever. I’ve learned a lot from him, both skill-wise playing sports and off the field, off the court, leadership roles. He’s helped me a lot, not just in basketball.”

Hiserman said Smoot’s biggest improvement has been his shooting.

Smoot said that has been one of the advantages of having a coach as a father — he can come into the gym and get extra time shooting around.

Another advantage has been his knowledge of the game.

“He watches sports, has been around sports all his life, so he knows the game,” Hiserman said. “He knows how to play it. He knows how to be in the right spots at the right times, knows how to get kids up in the air and draw fouls. He just knows the fundamental ins and outs of the game, which makes him a pretty good player because he’s smart, heady, those kind of things.”

Smoot also understands the importance of practice. Hiserman said there’s never a practice that’s not intense because of how hard Smoot is playing.

“Ryan is one of those kids that he brings it every day in practice,” Hiserman said. “Obviously he brings it in games, but he’s so good in games because of how hard he goes in practice every day. He forces everybody else to raise their games in practice, which obviously is going to make the whole team get better in practice, time which is what you want as a team, as a coach.”

The Rams have had success the last couple years, and Smoot and his teammates certainly want to keep that going this year.

With a young team, Smoot said they will just take things one day at a time.

“We got to make every practice count,” Smoot said. “We’ve got to continue to work hard. We’re young, so there’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve, but if we can continue to make every practice count and win games, we’ll go from there.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com