For the last 10 years, the term "head coach Andy Smith" has repeatedly showed up in newspaper headlines.
But after a decade of head coaching experience on the Hi-Line, Smith has announced his decision to not return as the Havre High boys basketball coach next season.
In fact, Smith has chosen to take a step back from the coaching scene completely.
Smith coached his first season at Hays-Lodge Pole, and followed with four successful years at the helm in Rocky Boy. But after
being hired in June of 2007 by former Activities Director and current HHS Principal Dennis Murphy, Smith has opted for a changeof scenery after five good seasons with the Blue Ponies.
“I greatly appreciate the time and effort he gave to our program,” Murphy said. “Andy played for us in 1994 when we won it (boys state championship), and I think that has always been a rewarding thing, to be able to come back to your school and be able to give back to the program. We greatly appreciate the commitment towards our kids, and I know he gave what he could to the program. He competed as a Blue Pony and I know he wanted what was best for the program the entire time he was here, and I really do appreciate the commitment and effort. Coaching is a tough business. It is very tough, and draining, and I thank him for giving us five seasons.”
In 1994 Smith was senior, and a key contributor to the Blue Ponies' state championship run.
And though the extremely tough to get to, Class A state tournament avoided Smith and the Blue Ponies over the last five season, HHS has maintained its position near the top of the Central A pack. Really, it was a handful of tough, hard-fought overtime losses at the divisional tournament that ended the Ponies season’s earlier than expected.
“I was thankful for the opportunity to coach at Havre High,” Smith said. “A place where I also played. It was a great experience for me, and the most rewarding part was having a lot of great kids to work with over the last five years. I was lucky enough to have unselfish kids, and what I thought were some really hard workers. I have had some really special kids that made it a very rewarding experience.
“I also want to thank all of my assistant coaches,” Smith added. “Not just this year, but from the last five years. They have all sacrificed a lot of time and energy so that we could put something on the floor to be proud of. All the coaches put in the time needed to have success, and their hard work is greatly appreciated, I couldn’t have done anything without them.”
Smith and the Blue Ponies have accomplished a lot. In an extremely competitive conference, the Ponied didn’t always have the best athletes on paper. But each season, Smith was able to put together a team that battled night in and night out, and improved all season long. And though there was no state appearance in the last five years, the Ponies were able to play their best basketball at the end of the season when it mattered the most. HHS was always pushing for a state berth, grabbing three No. 3 divisional finishes.
But now, Smith is ready to experience a new part of Blue Pony basketball, something he has yet to experience as a four year player and a five year caoch.
Smith now has the opportunity to be a Blue Pony fan and parent. He coached his son Brandon the last four years, and was able to coach Brian this year as a freshman. It will be new and different for Smith, and though it he isn’t certain he will never coach again, he is looking forward to his new role as a dedicated Havre High fan.
“Now I just get to watch Brian play,” Smith said. “I am still going to be a big Blue Pony fan, but I also just get to enjoy watching my son play. Coaching is something that is always on your mind and is very time consuming, so now I feel like I can breathe a little bit and cheer the Blue Ponies on as a parent. Being able to coach at Havre High was an honor, and I will always miss the excitement and competition of always striving to get better and to compete.”