The Forsyth Panthers announced the hiring of Kevin Smith as their new boys basketball coach on April 28 on Facebook.
Smith just finished a 19-6 season at Crane, which ended in the state quarterfinals. In the past, he also coached at Couch, Wynona, Bakersfield and West Plains.
Athletic director Jim Voliva said he first met Smith when West Plains played in the Forsyth Tournament while Smith was the head coach. Smith, however, has had his eye on Forsyth much longer than that.
When he was a student at College of the Ozarks, he said he told his wife he liked what Forsyth had to offer and he wanted to be a coach there one day.
“The lure of Forsyth is that I kind of admired Forsyth a little bit from a distance,” Smith said. “Forsyth has got to be a neat place to coach. There’s a lot of history, and the culture for basketball was pretty strong, so I really kind of admired that.”
Smith had a successful run at Crane. The Pirates won the SouthWest Central League several years in a row, and Smith also earned the SWCL Coach of the Year award for the last three years.
Smith said he knows the success will continue at Crane even without him, but he hopes to bring some of that success to Forsyth as well.
“My first year at Crane, we weren’t very good and we still made it to the championship game,” Smith said. “The next year we took off. Hopefully we can go quicker than that at Forsyth.”
The process for creating a successful team will start as soon as possible, but Smith said his priority is making sure he can watch his son Isaiah compete in his final season of high school baseball. One of the many reasons Smith decided to move to Forsyth was the proximity to College of the Ozarks, where Isaiah will continue his baseball career into college.
Voliva said he’s excited for what Smith will bring to the program.
“I’ve always thought he does his homework. He’s a guy that’s very organized,” Voliva said. “He’ll scout every team that he plays as much as anybody I know. … His record speaks for itself, and that’s the good part of it. He’s been successful everywhere he’s went.”
Smith said he will evaluate the team over the summer, gauging athletic and mental abilities before coming up with a season plan. But once that happens, he’ll be more than ready for winter to roll around.
“I’m just really excited. Forsyth is the one school that has interested me for a long time,” Smith said. “I didn’t think it would ever work out. I applied for the job years ago and never got interviewed. That was fine — sometimes things take time. I told my wife for afar that I really appreciated the culture that Forsyth produced. And now it’s worked out.”