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Hometown: Shelby, N.C.
-University of North Carolina (1991-95)
-- 1994 NCAA National Champion and Final Four Most Outstanding Player
-Charlotte Sting (1999-2004)
-Washington Mystics (2005)
-Indiana Fever (2006)
-University of North Carolina Assistant
-Elon University (NC) Head Coach
“'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” –Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
Charlotte Smith’s illustrious collegiate playing career included a national championship, a Final Four Most Outstanding Player award, and a retired jersey in the rafters at the University of North Carolina. Now, after nine years assisting her former coach, Sylvia Hatchell, Smith is in her second year calling the shots at Elon and looking to replicate the same on-court success she experienced years ago while imparting God’s wisdom and love to her players from the bench.
FCA: What was the most memorable moment of your athletic career?
CS: That would have to be the 1994 national championship game. Not just hitting the game-winning shot but being in that environment and seeing the results of hard work and dedication—turning our program around from the bottom of the ACC to national champions in three years. I think that's an amazing testament to the great leader we had in Sylvia Hatchell and how much you can accomplish when you're unified with a common goal and vision.
I’m so grateful to God for every door that He opened in my playing career. I never took anything for granted because I knew He had His hand on my life and was orchestrating everything.
FCA: Was the transition into coaching difficult?
CS: I think being an assistant under Coach Hatchell for nine years definitely helped prepare me for being a head coach. But there are a lot of things that only experience will prepare you for that you don't encounter as an assistant coach. Day in and day out, like Solomon, I ask God for His wisdom, grace and understanding to shepherd the people He's placed under me.
FCA: How does your faith impact your coaching?
CS: It has a tremendous impact because I don't see myself as just a basketball coach, but also as a mentor. I don't take this responsibility lightly because I feel like this is some-thing that God has called me to do. I feel like my primary responsibility is to make sure that I'm equipping my athletes to have a lifetime of success—instilling morals, values and character in them.
FCA: What is God teaching you through coaching?
CS: God has taught me about being patient and how to show His love in spite of circum-stances—trials, ridicule, persecution and many other things. He’s teaching me how to have grace and understanding and perseverance even in hard times. We're all called to be a light and bring glory to Him. The best way we can do that is through living out what He teaches.
FCA: What’s your goal for your team each season?
CS: Our goal is to be champions. But at the end of the day, if I’m teaching life skills that will help them to be champions in life, that's success to me. My greater focus is on making sure that I'm teaching them how to walk in the spirit of excellence, and the results will take care of themselves. I tell them that we are a great team destined for greatness, but I want them to understand that they are great individuals destined for greatness as well. Whether or not it leads to success in the world in terms of being a champion, I don't know, but I know they'll be champions in life.
Originally Published: January 2013
Photos courtesy of Elon Athletics