he Brownwood Lady Lions volleyball program will head into its third consecutive season with a different head coach as former Howard Payne Lady Jacket Allison Smith has accepted the position.
Smith, a native of Burnet where she earned first-team all-district honors in both volleyball and softball, is married to former Brownwood and Howard Payne basketball standout and graduate Zane Smith. Known by her maiden name of Allison Eaton during her college athletic career, Smith is a 2016 HPU graduate and played both volleyball and softball for the Lady Jackets, where she served as captain on both teams.
“I'm really excited about it,” Smith said of taking over the Lady Lions volleyball program. “My husband and I moved back to Brownwood last August and I had always mentioned if this was ever to open up this was the job I really wanted to pursue. The timing ended up being perfect. It's been crazy, but in the best of ways.”
During her time at Howard Payne, Smith developed a relationship with some of the future Lady Lions whose passion was playing volleyball.
“I helped out coaching at summer camps and leagues for Brownwood ISD for a couple of summers while I was at Howard Payne,” Smith said. “I'm pretty familiar with a few of the girls already. I know the talent that Brownwood has. I know how successful I plan for us to be. My expectations are high.”
Shortly after graduation, an injury almost derailed Smith's dreams of coaching before they ever began.
“After I graduated I broke my arm really bad, a double compound fracture and they almost amputated my arm,” Smith said. “I thought coaching was out of the question. After four surgeries and occupational therapy I regained function of my arm and shortly after I got fully released from my occupational therapist is when we moved back to Brownwood and I started talking about volleyball again. This opportunity was really a God send.”
Though Smith has not been a high school volleyball head coach before, she does have coaching experience.
“I got involved with the Texas Wings volleyball league that Tim Fowler is the coach of and hosts,” Smith said. “I helped out with their team throughout their league season. A couple of weeks ago this opportunity came up and we jumped all over it.”
As for her long-term goals, Smith would like to see future Lady Lions become more familiar with and develop a passion for volleyball at a younger age.
“I hope to get really involved with younger girls,” Smith said. “I'd like to eventually build the program up and have girls get interested in volleyball at an early age. They'd start getting the touches and they'd start getting familiar with the game sooner than middle school hopefully, and they can establish their love for the game from there. I'd also like to work with parents and get everyone on the same page as quickly as I can.”
Looking ahead to the 2019 season, which is just about a month away, Smith said, “It's going to be hard work, volleyball is a game of sacrificing your body, literally diving on the floor after the ball, but I think the group of girls I'm going to have is going to be really good.”
Smith holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master’s of Business Administration and will be teaching in the CTE (career and technology education) department.
Smith takes over for Jessica Withrow, who took a job as assistant track and cross country coach at Harding University in Arkansas, where former Brownwood track and cross country head coach Don Hood was recently hired.
Under Withrow, the Lady Lions posted a 12-20 overall record, finished fourth in District 7-4A and reached the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.