Smith named Sports Writer of the Year, but Dad is his most coveted title
Eric Smith, Pleasanton Express Sports Editor, was recently honored with the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) Sports Writer of the Year Golden Hoops Award for 2011-2012. The award has been presented for the past 20 years to sports writers for bringing more recognition to the game of basketball. “These are all large areas and many sports writers are nominated so Eric you are in an elite group,” said the TABC. “We appreciate your contribution to high school basketball. Let us know if we can ever help you in any way. Congratulations and keep up the good work.”
Eric became interested in sports writing in the 6th grade. His typing teacher was also a part time sports writer for the Comfort News. Eric would type out stories on Natalia mainly focusing his attention of his two loves the Spurs and the University of Texas Longhorns. His teacher would show him things that needed to be changed helping him in his writing.
He began his first job at the Devine News in 2000 as a sophomore at Natalia High School. His goal while working there was to try to get Natalia more publicity in the Devine News which at that time provided almost 90% coverage of Devine.
Eric worked part-time for the Devine News for two years before becoming fulltime in 2004 when he was named Sports Editor. While in Devine, Eric was not only the sports editor covering two high schools and two junior highs but he also covered the water district, school meetings, crime and car crashes and other assignments as needed.
Eric not only helped out in every way he could at the newspaper, but also sometimes found himself helping both the EMS and fire crews when he was the first to arrive at a crash, house fire or grass fire.
He says that he has been a sports fan for as long as he can remember having played football, basketball, baseball and golf throughout his school years. He rarely if ever missed a Natalia game since 1984. His father, Sam Smith, was the voice of the Mustangs since the early 70s and missed only two games during that time. Eric following in his father’s shoes began announcing the Jr. High and JV games in 1999. He continues to announce the Thursday night games.
Eric coaches youth volleyball, youth basketball, little league and ASA Softball during high school and following high school. He said,” I just love to be active and involved. I want to help assure these kids have someone there who cares, takes the little extra time to see they stay involved and out of trouble.”
He learned from his family and townspeople the importance of dedication to community. His father served on the Natalia School Board for 13 years and went on to run for city council where he served the city of Natalia for nine years.
At the young age of 21, Eric was asked by some parents why he did not run for school board. Eric thought “Why not? My chances of winning are slim to none. I will give it a shot.” He ran against six other candidates for three spots. Much to his surprise Eric was elected and also received the most votes out of the six.
Three years later, Eric found himself in a position where he had to make a decision which was not popular politically in the town, but according to Eric was the right thing to do. That vote Eric believes was the cause of him getting voted off the next year.
Eric never one to give up the good fight, decided to run again a year later. The same town that had voted him out, voted him back in once again with the most votes out of six people to fill three spots.
During his year off from the school board, Eric was nominated and appointed to the Emergency Service District # 5 by the Medina County judge and the county commissioners. He served for almost a year as the Vice President. Because he could not hold two political seats at once, Eric stepped down once he was voted back on the board.
“Being on the school board in a small town is very, very challenging,” said Eric. “At the end of the night, you can sleep well if you know you’re doing your best to keep the kids first, employees second and politics as far away as possible.” He has served on the board for six years and is up for re-election in November “I am not sure if I will run, but if I do it will be my last go around for a few years,” Eric said.
When Eric began at the Pleasanton Express his goal as in Devine was to see that all cities in Atascosa County got great coverage. He expanded coverage in most every area in every city and even added McMullen County to his roster. “As I near my two year mark in Pleasanton, I have come to love the new friends I have met and got to know,” said Eric. “I have loved all five communities that I serve. At the end of the day, it has been obvious that when it is all said and done, they all want to see their athletes achieve and excel in all that they do.”
Eric said that while he has found that readers are not shy about pointing out when you misspell a name or leave off a stat, that they also do not hold back on the thank yous and the compliments. He said he has especially appreciated the emails from coaches thanking him for his expanded coverage.
Eric who was adopted when he was five days old by Sam and Trudy Smith of Natalia, has recently become a father of Braelyn Noel Smith, born June 6 and weighing 7.6 lbs and 21 inches long. Eric and his wife Briana Smith, who works at the Birthcenter at Southwest General, have not had an easy past three weeks. Recently, Eric and Briana have been in and out of the hospital with Braelyn who for unknown reasons stopped breathing. Eric had to help her breathe on two occasions. As of tonight, the family is home from the hospital and hopeful that their first nightmare experience as parents is behind them. But, Braelyn is in good hands with Briana in nursing school to become an RN and with a father like Eric who has already performed super dad heroics.
Because of Braelyn’s hospitalization Eric did not write a column this week, so in dedication to his new baby girl we are again running the column he wrote the night before Braelyn was born.