CHICKASHA – Former NCAA Division I athlete Jadyn Smith will head the Drover softball team at the University of Science and Arts, university officials announced Wednesday.
After playing four years for Patty Gasso at the University of Oklahoma, Smith went back to her high school alma mater, Newcastle, where she served as an assistant for two years. She joins USAO directly from Sooner Athletic Conference rival Oklahoma Baptist, where she served as pitching coach.
“She comes very highly recommended,” Athletic Director Brisco McPherson said. “She was the best fit because of her expertise in pitching. That’s what set her apart from the other candidates.”
While she doesn’t have prior head coaching experience, she has a game plan on how to run a program and how to continue USAO’s success.
“I’m a small-town girl but I can bring the big program like one at the University of Oklahoma into a smaller campus. I’m ready to get started,” Smith said. “The theme we are going to have is ‘Try to Keep Up’ — we want to other schools to try to keep up with us because we are going to work hard and keep pushing.”
Academics are paramount to Smith, who plans to institute early morning practices and require study hall for all her athletes.
Smith said her goal is to help transform student-athletes from teenagers to women, “like Coach Gasso did for me.”
“The biggest goal is have respectful girls come out of the program,” she said. “Some of my other goals are obviously to compete and keep up in the SAC conference and win a conference title.”
In addition to her assistant coaching duties at OBU and previously at Newcastle, Smith has had a pitching and skills clinic for 40 athletes a week for the last four years.
She also has helped with the Josh Heupal ‘Day of Champions,’ where she has taught leadership skills and establishing trusting relationships since 2007.
Between her high school career in the area, former teammates coaching across the region and her clinic, she already is starting with a strong recruiting base.
“She’s well connected. She knows a lot of people in the state,” McPherson said. “That gives her an advantage recruiting-wise.”
Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from OU. While she currently lives in Oklahoma City, she said she plans to move to Chickasha soon.
Smith is set to begin her duties as head coach on Aug. 1.