By Nelson Coffin
Although Brett Smith won’t celebrate his first year on the job as the Institute of Notre Dame’s athletics director until mid-October, he’s been around the East Baltimore Catholic school long enough to understand that finding fields for Penguins’ “home” soccer and field hockey games this fall will keep him busy.
The school’s urban campus on Asquith Street that dates back to the mid-19th century is small and without any room for playing fields, yet there is a gymnasium in the school building for the volleyball, basketball and badminton squads.
“By far, the most challenging issue for me is locating fields,” said Smith, who was asked to become the school’s AD despite beginning the fall semester as a social sciences teacher. “We’re continuing to bounce from field to field. But we are looking at someplace new (for fall sports).”
So far it looks like the soccer and field hockey teams might use Meadowood Park in Brooklandville when or if the deal to use those venues is confirmed.
If not, the Penguins will have to land other accommodations at either Northwest or Druid Hill parks in the city.
It’s all in a day’s work for Smith, who had 30-year career teaching in Baltimore County public schools before joining the faculty at IND.
Smith also coached girls soccer teams at Parkville, Kenwood, Loch Raven and Dulaney high schools in addition to running a CYO team at St, Thomas More.
Nothing in his background, however, has prepared him for the magnitude of helping to organize the Big Game against Mercy, the annual basketball battle between the schools that began 52 years ago.
To that end, Smith is hoping to schedule an appearance at the event by former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who wore No. 52 during what is most likely to be a Hall of Fame career.
Regardless, Smith said that he hopes the Penguins can add to their four-game winning streak in the series after last year’s 39-26 victory at Towson University’s SECU Arena.
While he isn’t slated to coach a team this season, he still might find his way to the sideline.
“I could jump into JV if we have enough girls to have a team,” he said. “We’re very excited about the new kids coming into the program.”