Sanctions scar soccer seasons
Smith calls it quits at Western
Winning doesn't matter to admin
Smith calls it quits at Western
By Justin Klein
Charlie Smith is riding off into the sunset after a three-year tenure as head coach of the Western men's water polo team.
Back in 1996, after a disappointing seventh place finish, the Mustangs were eager to train hard and hopefully erase their harmless image. Former head coach Steve Jarvis could not return but the Mustangs did not look long for a replacement, as former head coach Charlie Smith seemed like the perfect choice.
Smith was no stranger to Western. He had assumed the position as head coach of the water polo team in the 1992/93 season, the year before he committed all of his time to teacher's college. He was also no stranger to success, as the team finished the regular season in third place that year. But things turned for the worse soon after his departure, as head coaches Tim Pohlman and Jarvis led the team to seventh place finishes both years.
Smith approaches coaching in a different manner than most other coaches in the sport do. His technique revolves around a more passive role and he places the control of the game in the hands of the players. This trust has proven to be the key ingredient to success, as the team has recently become one of the leading competitors in the league.
"He is competitive yet easy going. He is soft spoken yet he coaches really hard. He is not the aggressive type who yells and screams," said captain Brandon Lawrence. "He lets us deal with the game ourselves as opposed to trying to control every aspect of it. I appreciate this kind of coaching and respond to it better."
Smith's style of coaching has allowed the team to prosper in the last couple of years. In the year Smith returned to coaching, the Mustangs finished fourth overall. He continued to help the team improve over the next two seasons, as they ventured into the unknown territory of bronze and silver respectively at the provincial championships. This recent success helped Smith win Ontario coach of the year honours this past season.
"It is a great tribute to receive an award voted on by your peers," Smith said. "It was a great pleasure to receive it but it would have been better if the team was able to win and receive a trophy instead."
After three great years as head coach for Western and countless seasons as head coach for the London Blazers Water Polo Club, Smith has decided to step down for a while. With a new baby at home, Smith wants to dedicate his free time to being a father.
"My wife and I have a seven-month-old daughter and I was finding that I was missing a lot of her growing up," Smith said. "I want to focus now on being a dad."
Charlie Smith is leaving huge shoes to fill. According to Smith, the favorite to be head coach next year is Kyle Seaback, the team's assistant coach this year. Although Seaback is competitive and very knowledgeable, he will have a hard time replacing Smith.
"There is no doubt in my mind that everybody thought Charlie was a great coach," said team member Rob Clarke. "He will definitely be missed by everybody."