When Foxcroft Academy athletic director Tim Smith decided to make a coaching change right before the softball season, he knew who he wanted to replace Scott Anderson: Lifelong friend and Ponies field hockey coach Stephanie Smith.
“She was a college softball player and she’s probably the winningest coach I’ve ever had (in terms of winning percentage), so it seemed like a logical solution to my problem,” Tim Smith explained.
In four seasons as the field hockey coach, Stephanie Smith’s Ponies have posted a regular-season record of 51-5 (.911) and won the state Class C championship in 2013.
“If you can coach, you can coach anything,” said Tim Smith. “Coaching is about motivating kids, creating a culture of winning and having fun.
“That’s the hardest part. You can learn the skills,” he added.
The move has worked out so far.
The Ponies, who went 8-8 a year ago, are 7-2 with their only two losses coming at the hands of defending state Class B champ Old Town.
Tim Smith said they had to make some minor adjustments to accommodate Stephanie Smith’s work schedule at Pleasant Valley Lumber in Dover-Foxcroft, but everything has gone smoothly.
“Most teams practice right after school but we go from 5-7 (p.m.) so she can work until 5,” said the AD.
Stephanie (Higgins) Smith was a three-sport star (field hockey, basketball, softball) at Foxcroft and played all three sports at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. She was a 2011 inductee for the Foxcroft Academy Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Of all three sports I played in college, softball was the most fun,” said Smith who admitted she did some scrambling to learn how to coach the sport once she got the job.
“It has been challenging because I’ve made just as many mistakes as the kids have,” said Smith with a hearty laugh. “But we’re getting there. I love the sport and the kids have been great.
“The kids weren’t having a lot of fun in years past and softball is a fun sport,” she added. “There is a lot of strategy to it.”
“She’s doing a great job,” said senior second baseman Abbi Bourget, who also plays field hockey for Smith. “She is a great coach.”
“She cares, she genuinely cares and she wants to win,” said Tim Smith. “She’s as competitive a person as I’ve ever known. And she does it the right way.”