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Getting to Know ... Wayne Smith

Wayne Smith, is in his second year as the athletic and activities director at Mountain View. The 1987 Brookwood grad was previously in the same position at Grayson, where he began working in 2001, and also coached at Collins Hill for four years.

Smith, a former college football player at East Tennessee State, and his wife Staley, an assistant principal at Malcom Bridge Middle in Oconee County, have three children --sons Brackin (freshman at North Oconee) and Reed (sixth-grader) and daughter Lilly Ann (first-grader).

In this installment of "Getting to Know ", Smith talks with sports editor Will Hammock about his personal experience in the Brookwood-Parkview rivalry, his late father and his hunting prowess.

WH: What's it like to come to a young school like Mountain View from Grayson? What are the positives?

WS: The best part about it is being on the ground floor. Unfortunately I couldn't come here the first year to get things up and rolling, but to get here the second year and you're jumping into 7-AAAAA was a challenge. It was nice coming from Grayson, I kind of knew what to expect. It was neat to come in and be a part of that ground floor part of it.

WH: When a school like this is opened and it throws several high school clusters together, what is the community like?

WS: Our community is unbelievable. We have so many volunteers come in who want to be a part of stuff. The business community is unbelievable. Some of the business leaders around here, they're excited we're a new school. They're excited to be part of something. We've had several businesses ask what they can do to be a part of this. Parents are like that, too, they want to be a part of something new, something special like this.

WH: What do you miss most about Grayson?

WS: I miss the relationships with the coaches. Some of those guys have been there for quite awhile. I was there for nine years, so I miss the relationships over there. But the principal I have here is fantastic. He was at Grayson before here. I knew what kind of person and what kind of man he is, which made it great to come here. But I do miss a lot of coaches because you're around them all day and build relationships with them.

WH: Bringing (former Grayson and now Mountain View athletic secretary) Jan McCall over here really helped you, right?

WS: It was one of those situations, my transition over here would have been a lot more complicated and a lot more of a hassle had she not come over here with me. Because of my personal relationship with her, she's a great lady and probably one of the hardest workers I've ever been around. But also because of her knowledge. It's unbelievable. Whether it's buses, transportation, eligibility, I would have been in big trouble without her here.

WH: Did you always want to go into administration or did you want to be a football coach?

WS: When I first started out and got a college coaching position and then came to a high school job, my goal was to be a head football coach. I've always loved football and loved athletics, so I wanted to be a head football coach to start. I didn't want to be an athletic director. But the more I saw the things that were going on and the overall impact of the school, that's where I went. When I transferred to Grayson from Collins Hill and sat down with (former Grayson AD) Mike Phillips about the AD job, it started interesting me more and more.

WH: Do you miss coaching football?

WS: The biggest thing I miss are the relationships with the kids. Because you're around them sometimes more than their parents. The relationships you build with them, not only on the football field, but investing in their lives. And having the kids come by and see you. I still have kids I coached at Collins Hill who send me an email who through the school system know where I'm at. That's great. That's the biggest part I miss. I miss the competition on Friday nights. The intensity of the game and the sudden change, things like that. Standing on the sidelines and watching and having no control over that, is hard. But you focus your interests outside the field of play.

WH: What part of the Brookwood district did you live in?

WS: I had two older brothers that went to Parkview. I lived in Hanarry Estates. When my older brothers went to Parkview, I grew up going to Parkview games. My parents ran the concession stand. My father, who just passed away in April, he was big in the community. He umpired baseball over at Lilburn Lions Club Park for 27 years. He ran the Lilburn Basketball Association. He was the treasurer and ran the concession stand and did things over there for probably 25 years. I grew with it. My mom now, if you go to her house now, she still has orange, plastic Parkview Panther cups in her cupboard. For forever, I thought that was where I was going to go. But they redistricted the lines and I went to Brookwood.

WH: Was it a crazy change being Parkview your whole life?

WS: It was a little difficult. I had two older brothers who went to Parkview, one played football and one was in the band. They were a year apart. The transition itself wasn't that bad. It was just where I was going and I fit right in. My freshman year I played football, basketball and baseball. You just became a part of the Brookwood Community.

WH: What kind of teams were you on?

WS: My junior year we made it to the second round of the playoffs. I played with Jeff Finch. We did very well. Senior year we were 1-9.

WH: You beat Parkview though.

WS: That's right. The only team we beat was Parkview.WH: You were ranked really high going into that year, right?

WS: We had some great players. I don't know what happened.

WH: Could you see what was going to happen at Brookwood football-wise when Coach (Dave) Hunter came in (the spring after your senior year)?

WS: Coach (Bruce) Stephens is a great man, a great coach when it came to the personal relationships with the kids. But you could see it coming. What was it, a year or two later that they made the state championship game. It didn't take too long to figure out what Coach Hunter was going to be doing over there. He changed the climate and the culture. He said we're going to win.

WH: How good was (Georgia football signee) Jeff Finch?

WS: Probably one of the best all-natural athletes I've been around. I haven't seen many kids on the field that could take hits or hit somebody the way he did. He played defensive back when he first came up and got moved over to quarterback. He played basketball and could go out and crush a baseball.

WH: What kind of player was Wayne Smith? Jeff Finch-like?

WS: No, no. I knew my limitations. I always knew what I wanted to do. When I was younger, I made a bet with my dad that I was going to get a football scholarship. I did what I needed to do. I worked hard. My dad instilled so much in me when it came to giving what you have to give. The running joke is just be in the picture when the film stops running. In my mind, if I'm not on the pile, I need to be around it. Honestly, that's what helped me. When I signed with East Tennessee, they were there looking at David Dodd. When he watched film he said, you're always in the picture. I just did what I needed to do.

WH: How big were you? What was your playing weight?

WS: My freshman year, I started four games and I was 198 pounds playing noseguard. The two guys in front of me got hurt. We had two scrimmages and one guy got hurt in the first and one guy got hurt in the second. The second guy blew his knee out. I was playing defensive end and they knew I played defensive line in high school. They asked if I wanted to play my freshman year or be redshirted. I was an 18-year-old kid. I wanted to play. I wasn't over 205 pounds at any given time. I moved to defensive tackle my sophomore year and played at 215, 218 pounds. I moved outside and got bigger. I was about 225 to 235 at defensive end my junior and senior years.

WH: What was there to do around Snellville when you were in high school?

WS: Not a whole lot. We had that one gas station on the corner close to Brookwood where people could get one of those lemon slushees. What was it, a Spur station? But there wasn't a whole lot to do. You found a way to go to Brookwood-South games, whether it was football, basketball or baseball. You'd go to that game.WH: It sounded like your dad (Winston Smith) was very involved in your life and shaping who you are?

WS: My dad was a great man. He worked for the forest service for 42 years. He came from a small town. His school, grades 1 to 12, had 99 kids in it. I looked at old pictures and he had six on his basketball team, 10 on his baseball team. There were only 10 kids in his graduating class and they had no junior class. Obviously it wasn't enough for football, but he loved athletics. One of my older brothers, he played football, but he was very good with his hands, a mechanic, and the other was good with the arts, played in the band. When I started in athletics, my dad and I had a great bond with it. He could see what we were doing and enjoyed it. He just instilled in me, regardless of what you do, to play hard and enjoy it. For me it was great, moving forward. He never cut me a break. Jim Tiller was my high school offensive line coach and he'd get onto me for something. I'm thinking when practice is over I'm going to tell dad what happened and dad's going to be mad. Dad was mad, but he was mad at me. You should have done better, tried harder or something. He told me the coach was there for a reason. He sees what is going on. My dad never missed a home football game when I was in college. At the time, there was no four-lane highway to get from Asheville (N.C.) to Johnson City. It was two lanes over a mountain, 5 hours. When the gates opened at 5:30, I knew when I was out to walk the field, he'd be in the stands. It was nice for me when I became an athletic director and could do things for him. When we were at Grayson and played in the Corky Kell Classic, I could take my dad on the sidelines at the Georgia Dome, which was very nice and be able to share that with my dad.

WH: What's it like with your wife and your children being at schools in Oconee and being away from them so much? How hard is that?

WS: I love being here, but it's a little bit of a struggle. I'd love for my son to be over there. He's a freshman football player at North Oconee. But they understand it. We live in Oconee and for me it's important to play within your community. He's a part of that community and needs to be a part of that program. For me, it's a little bit hard.

WH: How did you and your wife meet?

WS: We met in college. She was a local girl who grew up in Johnson City where East Tennessee State is. She ended up going to school there. She was a member of a sorority and between the football players and the sorority, we had several guys who dated girls in the sorority and we all hung out together.

WH: And she just wanted to date the star football player?

WS: I don't know anything about a star football player. But we met and we clicked and it's been unbelievable since.

WH: Do you remember your first date?

WS: The first date was Jan. 20, 1990.

WH: That's a good memory. What did you do?

WS: We just went out to eat. We had known each other for awhile, so we were real comfortable with each other. It wasn't an awkward first date.

WH: Do you have any hobbies outside athletics?

WS: I deer hunt. That's something that's nice. I look for things that I can do with my kids. I'm trying to get my kids involved in golf, they're 14 and 11, so we go to the driving range. I've been hunting since I was probably 13 years old, which is really kind of weird because my dad did not hunt. But my dad worked for the forest service and loved being outside. My two older brothers and I are still members of a hunting club. My dad would just go sit with us.

WH: Are you a better hunter or a golfer?

WS: (Pause) I'd have to say hunter (laughing). I haven't played as well as I used to. I got an opportunity when I was at Collins Hill to be assistant golf coach with Ken Leach. He asked if I wanted to help and I wasn't sure and he said our home course is Chateau Elan, so I said what time is practice. Back then my golf was good but it's hasn't been the same since. I hack it around now.

WH: What's your trophy kill in hunting?

WS: I have three 8-pointers (deer). Our first house, my wife did let me put them in the living room. Now they're in my closet until I can get my basement finished. And obviously my bobcat (pointing to the one on his office wall).

WH: It keeps an eye on the office here.

WS: It keeps things interesting when people come in here. My brother's bobcat is about twice that big. People keep asking me why I shot a house cat. It's the only one I've ever seen.