Success isn’t confined to end results.
Just look at the Tucson High football team and head coach Vincent Smith, winner of the 2008 Tucson Citizen Football Coach of the Year Award.
Smith’s Badgers had a losing season in 2008, going 5-6 and ended the year with two painful losses, including a 43-6 loss in the Class 5A Division I playoffs to No. 1 seed Mesa Mountain View.
But those numbers don’t tell the story about how far the Badgers have come in the past three years.
When Smith was hired for the 2006 season, he inherited a downtrodden program with just 19 players at the largest high school in southern Arizona.
The team weathered the storm of a 25 game, 2 1/2 year losing streak while Smith plugged away, building a foundation for success.
“Your patience gets tested,” the 37-year-old Smith said of going 0-20 on the field in his first two seasons at Tucson High (the team was awarded a win in 2007 after a school they lost to was found to have used an ineligible player).
“As much as you tell the kids things are headed in the right direction, moral victories don’t mean as much as a ‘W.’ They deserve a lot of credit for fighting through it all and sticking with it when all anyone ever wanted to talk to them about was the losing.”
Smith said “75-80 percent” of his coaching, and essentially all of the aspects of trying to be a leader and dealing with kids, comes from what he learned while playing for Dick Tomey as an offensive lineman at the University of Arizona from 1990-92.
“I think one of the main things he did was believe in himself in the face of all of this outside criticism of how the program was doing on the field,” said Tucson High athletic director Gary Lewis. “He always believed he was going about rebuilding this program in the right way and now, the bar has been raised.”
For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.