by Halle Wynn/Staff Writer
As the flag drops and the gun fires off to signal the start, Coach Aaron Smith becomes anxious about his team winning the race. At Yorktown’s Jim Leffler Invitational, Smith watched Parker Niemeier, 12, finish third and give GC a second place finish in the invite. Smith coaches the men’s varsity cross country team and teaches in the math department.
As a coach, Smith has developed close bonds with those on his team. Conner Kinnaman, 11, is a cross country team captain. Kinnaman said, “We’re like a family; we even call Coach our dad sometimes just because it makes him uneasy.”
Team captain, Parker Niemeier, 12, has been involved in cross country for four years now and does not look forward to saying goodbye at the end of the year. Niemeier said, “Smith always has a hard time saying goodbye to the seniors, and before every single race he shakes every runner’s hand and wishes them good luck which for me personally means a lot.”
Honesty and empathy are two key factors in coaching. Tyler Osborn, 10, said Smith, “is honest with you telling you what he thinks that you did that can be improved.”
Over the years, Smith has found that coaching requires dedication and focus. Kinnaman added, “Coach is the reason I am the runner I am. He dedicates himself to the betterment of his runners. He keeps us in check, but also has fun with us along the way. He’s the best coach you could ask for.”
Although Smith likes to have fun, he always works hard and attempts to find new runners. Niemeier said, “He always makes an effort to get the whole team to go over to junior high and recruit 8th graders for next years season and during summer conditioning he really focuses on each runner’s individual abilities and focuses on them and basically makes the most out of what he has.”
When not occupied with teaching, Smith can be found attending sporting events, spending time with his family or exploring the wonders of nature. “I have three friends that I met at a Bible study, and we like to go to sporting events, national parks, and we have all played on the same slow pitch softball team.”
Smith and his friends may have played softball together, but the cross country will always remain as his favorite sport. Smith’s team has started the season out with a great ordeal of success. The team has placed fifth twice and seventh place once so far in the year.
“Live life to the fullest” is a very popular quote, but Smith sees things differently. “I recently came up with my own quote, ‘A man is made in the mundane.’ With teaching math and coaching cross country, I do two things most people don’t like: math and running. Most people live for just the exciting parts of life which are very few and far between. Most of our life is spent in the mundane. If we work hard and enjoy those times, we will be much better off.”