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Charter's Smith earns national Coach of Year award - again

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | December 19, 2020 1:07 AM

Stacy Smith has been coaching girls soccer at Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy for five years.

For every year she's coached the Panthers, her excellence on the field has been recognized on a national level.

On Thursday, the world’s largest soccer coaches organization, the United Soccer Coaches, announced that Smith is the 2020 High School Girls National Coach of the Year in the small school category. This is her fifth time earning the esteemed award.

"It’s so exciting, and kind of unreal still," Smith said Friday. "The head of the committee called me from North Carolina Wednesday morning on my way to work and said, 'I want to let you know you're getting an early Christmas present.'"

Smith led the Panthers, a varsity team that comprises ninth-through-12-graders, to an 18-1-1 record and the Idaho Class 3A State Championship in October.

As the head coach, her career record with Charter stands at an astonishing 86-4-3, not including the eight years she coached high school soccer elsewhere.

“I'm kind of shocked," she said. "It's humbling but shocking at the same time that a little school in Idaho would be recognized for something like this nationally."

Smith, 41, teaches math and civics at Charter. She's a Coeur d'Alene High School grad who was active in soccer in her youth.

"I grew up on that soccer field over there," she said.

Smith also helped late local soccer legend coach Bill Eisenwinter run student soccer camps when she was early in her soccer career. Smith has been coaching soccer in some capacity since she was in high school.

"I think that's part of why I do this," she said. "I had such a wonderful experience in middle school, high school and college, and the ability to learn much more than playing the game of soccer."

Although she is coach of the year, this is not an award to be appreciated by just one. Smith praised the work of her players and their ability to perform as a team. She instills in them the importance of capitalizing on their athletics, honoring those who came before and being role models for those who come after.

"There's only a limited amount of time where you can compete at a certain level," she said. "The message is, 'Go have fun and play this game. Play for those who played before you and for those who can no longer play.'

"It’s been fun being a part of that, even through the struggles," she said.

Smith is the mother of three boys who keep her on her toes. Her oldest plays soccer.

"He's grown up on my bench, learning the game," she said.

Visit www.UnitedSoccerCoaches.org to view all of the 2020 Boys and Girls Regional Coaches of the Year and High School Regional Assistant Coaches of the Year.

Awardees will be recognized at the 2021 United Soccer Coaches Digital Convention in January.

photo

Courtesy photo

The Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy Panthers soccer team is seen here on Real Life Fields in Post Falls the night the team won the Idaho state trophy in October. Coach Stacy Smith, sixth from left, second row, has been named National Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.