“SMITH! SMITH! SMITH!” This chant echoed through the gym of basketball games last year, but most students who participated in the chant didn’t know why they were chanting, or how the chant started. The one thing they did know was that when it started, a player came off the bench and went into the game. That player was Caleb Smith ’14, the man behind the chant.
The chant all started during the first home basketball game of 2013. Some of Smith’s close friends started shouting his name in hopes to see him get on the court. Shortly after the chant started, the rest of the student section joined and the chant resonated throughout the gym as Smith checked into the game late in the fourth quarter.
“Even I could hear the chant, and I don’t hear much of what goes on during our game,” said Basketball Coach David Wood.
According to Wood, the chant neither helped nor hurt Smith’s playing time. However, the chant still served as a warm welcoming for Smith each time he stepped on the court during a varsity game. This year, the chant won’t be needed as much, as Smith is now an important part of the Varsity squad and expects to see big minutes this season.
“I think he’s going to play a huge role on our team. He can score some points, but I think his biggest value is rebounding,” Wood said.
Rebounding is what the team this year really needs after graduating three players with great size last year (Brian Bangs, Jutus Stanback, Caleb Shinn).
Seniors on a sports team are expected to take up a leadership role and help younger players who don’t have quite as much experience. Smith is someone who the team will look up to this year.
“His work ethic is something that has greatly improved through the past few years. When people lead the team the first thing that has to be there is work ethic. I believe he has that particular characteristic,” Wood said.
William Mbongo ’14 is the only other senior on the team. In order to succeed this season, he believes that he and Smith must work together and lead the team as veterans.
“I think we have to do a dual leadership and show the guys that haven’t been on the team before how everything works. It’s really important to form a bond with everyone else on the team and have them look at Caleb and I as leaders. As co-leaders, I have to listen to what Caleb has to say, he listens to what I have to say, and everyone else on the team listens to both of us. I think that’s the most important thing,” said Mbongo.
As the upcoming basketball season quickly approaches, Smith is already setting goals for himself and for the team.
“We want to be undefeated at home and I as an individual want to rebound and score as many times as the team needs me to,” Smith said.
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Player: Grievis Vasquez