Chad Smothers is excited about being back in eastern Wake County.
He’s even more excited about the future of sports at Knightdale High School, where he took over as athletic director July 1 following Guy Blough’s retirement in June.
“It’s been a good transition,” said Smothers, who spent the past nine years at Leesville Road and the past three as the Pride’s head football coach. “Former AD Guy Blough has done a tremendous job being helpful, answering questions and showing me around so it’s been an easy transition.”
He may have needed a tour of his new stomping grounds at Knightdale, but Smothers is no stranger to the area and many of its residents. He was the head baseball coach at East Wake from 2001-03.
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Having a history in eastern Wake made the job opportunity more attractive for Smothers.
“It’s a school that’s community-based – it’s named after the town,” he said. “Knightdale is one of the only community schools that’s still left and it’s only 10 years old, so I think there’s a lot of potential and it’s really coming into its own. There’s a lot of appealing aspects to the job.”
Smothers, 45, is entering his 22nd year teaching physical education, focusing heavily on weight training since 2003. He currently lives in Raleigh with his wife, Lee.
Over his career, he’s spent 18 years as an assistant football coach and 15 as a head baseball coach.
He got his start at Reidsville High in 1993 and held several positions in Craven and Rockingham counties over the years. He left East Wake to become assistant football and head baseball coach at Havelock High, and moved again in 2005 to be the baseball chief and defensive coordinator at Leesville. As the Pride’s head football coach, his three football teams posted 12-1, 12-1 and 8-4 records.
For Smothers, the opportunity to oversee an entire athletic department was a career goal. “When your whole life since 6 years old revolved around athletics, I think it’s the natural progression to be at the pinnacle of the athletic department,” he said.
He thinks he’s been well-primed for the job through his experience managing facilities and coaching different sports for a championship-caliber program at the 4A level.
“I want to get our coaching staff consistent; bringing stability to the staff would be the first thing,” Smothers said. “And I want to get more kids involved. This is a different challenge and it’s exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”
Smothers is also eager to serve as a mentor to young coaches. He believes if student-athletes are coached properly, wins and losses will take care of themselves.
“(Students) are going to experience four years of high school athletics,” he said. “The life lessons they’re going to learn are going to help them in the future. Winning a trophy on an undefeated team is an awesome experience, but the number one thing is making sure they grow through their athletic experience.”
First-year Knightdale Principal Jim Argent is impressed early on with Smothers’ philosophy for running an athletic program.
“He just gets it,” Argent said. “He has a unique combination of having big-picture vision, but also aligning small details to reach that vision.
“He is going to truly be able to understand the importance athletics has on the Knightdale community, but he also understands athletics are only one piece to running a successful school community.”