Heumann Interest: EL girl’s high school basketball coach speaks on career

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 5:49 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The girl’s high school state basketball tournament continues this evening, and among our local teams still in action, the East Lansing Trojans. Like Tom Izzo, East Lansing Coach Rob Smith can also be nicknamed “Mister March.”

What an incredible career he’s having.

High school basketball has given Rob Smith a large share of his local identity. But it’s his time at home., much of it with his 10-year-old son Tate that he values most.

Tate was born just after East Lansing’s state championship run in 2010.

“We got to host the title and uh got to go to the hospital and meet the best person I’ve ever met in my whole life. This guy right here man. He’s awesome. Love him,” said Rob Smith.

Smith has been at East Lansing for 21 years. The last 19 years as girls head coach. Last week, the Trojans won their 13th district title in those 19 years.

“I was sitting in my social studies class when I was 17 years old and uh, my basketball coach Jim Tate---who my son is named after---he challenged us to come up with something that we wanted to do and I started looking at his life. Had a nice house. He had a nice car. He had a great family. He was a great coach. He was a wonderful teacher and I thought high school’s a pretty good gig,” said Smith.

Rob Smith was named head coach at East Lansing at the tender age of 29 and he has left an indelible mark of success on this program. But his biggest rewards aren’t in the many trophies he has hoisted but rather the players who come back and express gratitude.

“Love all or ex-players and uh look forward to them getting married and having families-----living the life they want to live and maybe approaching their jobs in the real world the same way that they approach basketball. I talked to a parent the other day---Norm Miller, whose daughter Mia played for me and she’s just going to operate on hearts you know,” said Smith. “You know, she’s going to be a heart surgeon! That’s really special and I hope that I can live a really long time to see some of these gals have their children and have their children come up and see how you know they’re able to parent their kids and that kind of thing.”

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