Coach Tim Smith’s Lasting Achievement is his Character & Love for his Students
By BILL PLOTT | AHSAA
Timothy Earnest Smith has been much more than a basketball coach at Ranburne High School. Principal Tim Ward says Smith is an inspiration to all who know him.
Most importantly, said Ward, “His 643 wins in coaching does not compare to the lives he’s impacted as a role model.”
Smith is one of 12 coaches and administrators being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2022. The induction ceremony and banquet will be March 21 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6 p.m. His high school coach was Harlen Robinson, who was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in the Class of 2000.
Smith was born just across the state line in Carrollton, GA and grew up in Ranburne graduating from Ranburne High School in 1969 where he was a very successful high school athlete. He played on the 1966 Bulldogs squad who went undefeated and was declared Class 1A state champion. He returned after college to become an integral part of Ranburne High School’s faculty and coaching staff.
Ranburne’s long-time girls’ basketball coach graduated from Auburn University in 1975 and earned a master’s degree in education from Jacksonville State University.
Following graduation from Auburn, Smith returned to his alma mater as a physical education teacher and coach. He was an assistant coach on the football team for Robinson who won the 1975 Class 1A state title. When Ranburne established its first girls’ basketball team in 1977, Smith was its first coach. It was a position he would hold for 41 years until his retirement in 2019. His teams compiled a record of 643-344 during that span and made 34 playoff appearances, winning 21 area championships. Twelve of Smith’s Bulldog teams reached the “Sweet 16” level of the state tournament, seven were in the quarterfinals, and three reached the semifinals. Ranburne won the state championship in 1991 and finished runner-up in 1993. Twelve of his former players signed college basketball scholarships. In 1998 he became assistant principal and continued to coach on the hardwood until 2019.
His teams regularly won 20 or more games, including the 1992-93 and 1993-94 teams that each won 28 games in reaching the semifinals. Smith was State Coach of the Year in Class 2A in 1991 and The Anniston Star Coach of the Year in 1991. On Nov. 23, 2021, before a standing-room-only crowd, the court at Ranburne was dedicated in his honor. Ward said Smith’s impact at Ranburne will be long lasting.
“The state of Alabama has been blessed with a rich history of outstanding high school coaches,” he said. “The criteria to be inducted in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame are success on the playing field and outstanding leadership. Tim Smith, without a doubt, meets the criteria.
“Based upon the criteria of coaching success, Tim Smith should be in the Hall of Fame. Regardless of all of his career highlights in coaching, his lasting achievement is his character and his love for students. He has held just about every position of leadership at his church. He has been the choir director, Sunday School superintendent, Sunday School teacher, youth director, and Baptist Brotherhood coordinator. He has been the school sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for over 20 years. His Christian faith carries over to the daily job.”
Ward said as much as Smith loves his students, the students love him even more.
“Coach Smith is beloved by the students at Ranburne High School,” he said. “As a former student, player, co-worker, and now supervisor, Tim Smith inspires me to be a better person each day. Teaching and coaching is very difficult and stressful. His demeanor and positive outlook has enabled him to survive all of the ‘ups and downs’ in the profession. His 643 wins in coaching does not compare to the lives he’s impacted as a role model.”
Cleburne County Schools Superintendent Chad Young adds, “I have known Tim Smith for my entire life. He is currently a friend, employee, and a Christian brother. Over the course of the last 35 years he has been my junior high school football coach, workout partner in the weight room, my teacher, and even a member of my coaching staff after I became head football coach at Ranburne in 1999. I assure you there is not a better man in the coaching profession than Tim Smith.
“He has outstanding character and self-control demonstrated by the fact that he has received only one technical foul in his tenure as basketball coach. He has dedicated his life to God, family, and the town of Ranburne through its school and athletic department.”