Photo provided
Pete Smith (right) visited with Notre Dame mens basketball coach Mike Brey (left).
Photo provided Pete Smith (right) visited with Notre Dame mens basketball coach Mike Brey (left).

Former Guerin Catholic boys basketball coach Pete Smith, who retired from teaching, and then left coaching two years ago to work full time on his business career, likes to reminisce.

The two-time Golden Eagles Class 3A state-championship coach (2012 & 2015) says he does miss this time of year when the balls are bouncing in the gymnasiums and basketball is about ready to start.

“I do get a little sad this time of the year,’’ he said while taking time to talk basketball the other day . . . “When so many of my old coaching buddies are starting up their season and are so excited.

“I loved that rush.’’

“I felt a little detached when I taught in one school or school system as Carmel, and then coached at a completely different school, as Guerin Catholic was. And I missed being around the kids during school time,’’ he said.

“A big factor when I decided to retire from GC was that I didn't look forward to going to practices the last two years, though I coached like I did before. 

“When I taught those 33 years, coaching to me was simply going from my classroom of teaching Business classes or PE, to another classroom, the gymnasium, to teach basketball. My final two years of coaching I was working in the private sector. Not saying I didn't do necessarily a good job of coaching, I just didn't have the same passion.’’

Smith, who turned the GCHS basketball reins over to Bobby Allen last season, also had been named to the Board of Directors at Community First Bank of Indiana.

“What I mean is this: Working as I do in the private sector now for four years, driving to school from meetings with customer(s) and then shifting my thoughts and then going to basketball practice . . . it just wasn't the same for me those last two years,’’ he said. 

He said he respects and admires “lay coaches’’ that can leave their work at the end of the day and fully-concentrate on two-plus hours of practice with high school teams that you are doing everything in your ability to lead to victory on Friday & Saturday nights. 

“Coaching high school varsity basketball is different than coaching AAU or rec teams. Your AD's, Principals, and patrons go to watch your games with one idea — to watch them win. If you don't win much, they don't go, and if that continues a lot, you likely lose your coaching job after a few sub-par seasons and IHSAA tournament failure.’’

Smith said he still visits many of his former assistant coaches, like Scott Radeker (former head coach at Lafayette Jeff and now coaching at Northridge) and being able to visit other coaches’ practices. He visited Notre Dame’s Mike Brey a couple of weeks ago in South Bend.

“We’ll see if I miss it (coaching) in season No. 2 of not coaching this season,’’ he said. “The games I get to do (play-by-play with Greg Rakestraw from March thru December were pretty enjoyable last season. And I look forward to going and see the (PGA) Wastewater Open as I did last February . . . which I couldn’t do if I was still coaching.’’ 

Yeah, we’ll see if he misses coaching. 

Could this be a clue?: Pete has gone to five practices or open gyms this season since mid-October.

“I think if I did ever consider going back to the sidelines to coach, I would try and return to teaching or some kind of role with the school (AD, Dean of Students, etc.) and leave the private sector,’’ he said.

Smith built the Guerin boys basketball program from the ground up (2006-07 marked the first full varsity season for GCHS). He began his head coaching career at Manchester in 1987. His head coaching career began at Manchester in 1987 and included stops at Penn, Noblesville and Carmel.

He also served as an assistant coach for Al Rhodes during Warsaw’s title run in 1984.

Smith still resides in Noblesville and is an avid golfer at Bridgewater Golf Club. He also talked about something that likely not too many people know:

He said he always thought that it was an interesting fact that Indiana Pacers President Kevin Prichard lived in Noblesville during his junior high years before his father moved the family to Tulsa, Okla.

“What a team they would have had if Kevin could have stayed and played high school basketball in Noblesville!’’ he said.

“I remember working Roy Williams’ Kansas basketball camp . . . I think it was around 1993, and hanging out with Kevin during a break. He really cherished his time growing up at the Noblesville Boys and Girls Club playing hoops there.’’

Something like I’m sure Pete Smith certainly cherished his time coaching high school basketball, a career that spanned 27 seasons in the Hoosier state.

*—Mark Morrow, a Hall of Fame Indiana sportswriter, has resided in Hamilton County since 1989. You can follow him in The Times, and on Twitter at mmediamarko12. He can be reached at mediamarko5@gmail.com or by calling 317 460-8018.