Hubie Smith laughed at the question about the differences between coaching boys and girls.
He has done both. Earlier in his 30-year career he went from boys to girls. Last week he went back when he signed on as Brentwood Academy’s boys basketball coach.
Smith, a native of Cookeville, spent 18 successful seasons at Memphis Bartlett (1984-2002), where he won 440 games and won the 2001 Class AAA state boys title in a 33-5 season.
For the last five years, he has coached the Ensworth High girls, who won two Division II state titles (2010 and 2013) and had two runner-up finishes under his direction.
But back to the question.
“There are a lot of differences,” he said. “I have two daughters, so I know.
“When I worked over at Lipscomb University [as a men’s assistant for four seasons], the women’s coach [at the time] Frank Bennett told me there were several differences between coaching boys and girls. One of the main ones is that girls get their feelings hurt a lot quicker. If you tell them ‘we’re playing lousy defense,’ each girl is likely to take it more personally as if it’s her fault. The boys will more likely shrug it off and think that it’s someone else playing lousy defense, not himself.
“And, if you mention something you might not want repeated in the girls dressing room, it will be all over the school the next day. With guys, they seem to keep what you tell them a little more private and to themselves.”
Smith’s dramatic move from one region rival to another just a few miles away came as a shock to some and at least a bit of surprise to others. It definitely was not an early April Fool’s joke.
Just as Ensworth’s Ricky Bowers, the school’s athletics director, football and boys basketball coach, raised eyebrows when he moved from coaching his alma mater, Montgomery Bell Academy, to start a new school and a fierce rivalry, Smith said Bowers was caught off-guard when informed of his decision.
“When I got the call from [BA], I felt like it was something I should seriously consider,” Smith said. “They have a lot of wonderful tradition at that school, and I think I can help in the area of boys basketball. I hope to build it back to championship level. I know it was a rival school, but for me, it was a perfect fit.”
Also, one of Smith’s strengths is that he is particularly adept at running basketball camps, something at which he worked tirelessly while at Ensworth and something he’ll continue at BA.
The hardest thing for Smith was to tell his decision to daughter Becca, a point guard whom he coached at Ensworth. She will be a junior next season and will play for a new coach.
“I knew that would be especially hard for Becca, and it was,” he said. “I’ll always be her biggest fan and will pull for her and be there for her no matter who she is playing for. If she had been a senior, it would have been much better. [The transition] was a little easier in that her favorite sport is volleyball.”
Smith replaces Lyle Husband, who coached the Eagles for seven years and will remain a part of the BA faculty. Husband was promoted from assistant to head coach following the departure of George Pitts, whose teams won four straight titles, all led by future NBA player Brandan Wright.
Husband got BA back to the state tournament the following year but the Eagles lost in the first round. BA has had losing records each of the last four years.
This was not the first time Smith, 52, was a candidate for the job.
“When George Pitts left, I was one of the finalists for the job, but they went with Lyle, who was already on staff, and I understood that,” he said.
Smith certainly has the credentials.
He has three state titles to his credit, one at Bartlett, two at Ensworth. At Bartlett, his teams got to state four times, won seven district titles, five region titles and his last three teams won 26, 31 and 35 games.
His teams went 440-190 at Bartlett (1984-02) and 117-27 at Ensworth (2009-13) where he succeeded David Pack. Besides coaching at Lipscomb, he also was director of men’s basketball operations at Belmont for one year.
“Our team will be extremely young, and we may be rebuilding with a lot of sophomores and juniors,” he said. “But from what I understand, they have some outstanding seventh, eighth and ninth graders with a lot of outstanding talent.
“I still love coaching. And I have had overwhelming support.”
• The 15th annual Highland Track Games will be held Saturday at Franklin Road Academy. Field events begin at 9 a.m. and running events at 11 a.m. The event has a Scottish theme, with the Kilted Run requiring participants to wear the traditional Plaid kilt. The Nashville Pipe and Drum Corps will play at noon for the official opening. The event has raised more than $40,000 for local charities.
• The 27th annual Doug Hall Relays will be April 13 at MBA.
• The Williamson County soccer tournament will be held Thursday-Saturday and powerhouse Brentwood will try to defend its title.
• The Metro Nashville Public School Sports Hall of Fame luncheon will be 11 a.m., April 9 at LP field. Inductees include: Jerry Ballou (Isaac Litton), Michael Coleman (Stratford), Randolph Williamson (Pearl), Reginald Hayden (Pearl), Sonny Lyons (Pearl), Marynell Meadors (Hillsboro) as athletes, along with Chuck Lewis (Madison) as coach and Melvin Black (Pearl) as contributor.
• The annual Hancock-Nipper Sportsmanship Awards luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. April 10 at Swett’s Restaurant. It honors basketball players from Nashville region or state championship teams.
• Lipscomb Academy’s Stephanie Hamby has signed with Lipscomb University. The 6-foot post player averaged 11.5 points and seven rebounds per game for the Mustangs and had a double-double in 13 of her last 16 contests. She will join teammate Loren Cagle who committed to Lipscomb earlier.
• Hillwood soccer stars Buhtan Wani and Trey Tice have signed with Cumberland University. Wani also was football and wrestling letterman for the Toppers.
• Assistant coach C.J. Pangallo was promoted to Ravenwood softball coach. He replaced Kari Akin, who resigned to spend more time with family, and inherited a team that once again is among the favorites to reach the state tournament.
Ravenwood has seven seniors, including star catcher Madison Zoeller and second baseman Erin Johnson. But they will be without standout third baseman Brooke Robble, who was last year’s District 11-AAA MVP. She elected to forego her senior year after suffering a season-ending ACL injury last spring.
• Todd Lark has been named boys basketball coach at Whites Creek. He replaces Ricky Collins who recently retired. Lark formerly was an assistant at Hunters Lane and McGavock.
• Former Hillsboro star Jessica Pace, a Cumberland senior, was named first team All Mid-South Conference and second team NAIA All-American. She led the Bulldogs, who went 33-3 (a school record for wins), to the national tournament.