An era ended Tuesday night. 

Now, it’s time to for former Guerin Catholic boys’ basketball head coach Pete Smith to enter life without the coaching title and reflect on the great years he had with the Golden Eagles. Years that might not have been possible if Coach hadn’t returned to the hardwood and helped jumpstart Guerin’s program. 

“(My wife,) Vicky goes, ‘If you want to coach again, go down and tell Guerin Catholic that you’ll start their basketball program,’” Smith said. “It was on my wife’s urging that I (started the program), because I was starting to miss not coaching.”

Smith got back into coaching in 2004 at Guerin when he started their boys’ basketball program. From the beginning, Guerin wanted their students to play sports and play them the right way – winning was irrelevant, Smith said. 

Smith came from a background of the win-first mentality – as he coached at Noblesville High School for three years and Carmel High School for four years. Two highly successful programs.

While schools like Noblesville and Carmel want to cut the rosters and include the best players, Guerin went against the grain and kept as many kids on their roster as they could.

“We had tremendous families that had no preconceptions that we were ever going to be a really solid basketball program,” Smith said. “They were all there for the right reasons, the faith-based school, small academic classes, service oriented.

From the beginning, this job was different from any other coaching gig Smith had ever held.

His fondest memories, he said, was building relationships with players, pushing them to become not just better athletes, but more importantly better people and better students.

“The goal was to do things right and everything was faith-based in our school,” Smith said. “It was a breath of fresh air for me after being at Carmel where it was truly all about winning.”

Highlights from Smith’s career at Guerin? How about winning two 3A state championships. How about defeating players like future NBA players Gary Harris (Hamilton Southeastern) and Yogi Ferrell (Park Tudor).

This program was not built to win, yet they won 206 games under Smith. However, Smith cared more about his players than winning, and it showed.

“(Smith) knew me since I was a very young kid – he saw me grow,” said Zach Munson, who was a senior on last year’s Golden Eagles. “On the basketball court, he would keep it basketball oriented but also, he would come to other events in my family and be at certain parties around my family for special moments. So, it shows you how much he cared about my well-being and he was really invested in my life, which I appreciated.”

Once Smith left the teaching career in May of 2016, he noticed his passion for coaching start to dwindle. Teaching and coaching go hand in hand, Smith said, and it’s an easy transition at the end of the school day to go from a classroom full of kids to a gym full of kids.

Smith’s new job with an engineering company is one he enjoys, he said. However, the transition back to coaching for the past two years was a tough day-in and day-out.

Smith considered retiring last year around this time, he said, but he decided to stay for another season because he was excited to coach Munson and the other returning seniors.

After this year ended, he took a few months to think about whether he wanted to return for the 2018–19 season. The passion for coaching was not there anymore, and he decided to end his career.

Smith hopes to stay involved in the high school basketball community through broadcasting.