Prep Football

HLV Coach Kevin Smith relishes another high school football season

Ogden column: Practice begins Monday for Week 0 teams

Monday is the first day of practice in places like Victor, where HLV kicks off its 2019 campaign under the guidance of 22-year veteran Kevin Smith. talking to his players in this file photo. (The Gazette)
Monday is the first day of practice in places like Victor, where HLV kicks off its 2019 campaign under the guidance of 22-year veteran Kevin Smith. talking to his players in this file photo. (The Gazette)

Kevin Smith was a busy man Sunday.

On his “last day of summer,” Smith was watching two of his four grandchildren.

Both are under 2 years old. That’s no easy task.

He also was at HLV High School in Victor, watering the game and practice football fields.

It’s that time of year for folks like Smith.

Sunday was football-eve.

While many — maybe most — had camps last week, practice officially starts Monday for a handful of teams across the state that play Week 0 games. HLV plays at Colo-Nesco on Aug. 23, a day after English Valleys kicks off the 2019 season with a game at Twin Cedars.

So, in a sense, Sunday really was the last day of summer for coaches like Smith.

And that’s not a bad thing.

The man his players call “dad” admits not everything is fun — like fixing equipment or making sure all the paperwork is done and done correctly — but working with high school athletes, watching them grow and develop is priceless.

“The kids are what’s fun,” he said while keeping a keen eye on his grandson, who was in search of mud piles in the soaking field.

A 1978 graduate of HLV, Smith is looking forward to the “unknown” heading into his 22nd season as his alma mater’s head football coach,

“Every year is different,” he said. “... what are we going to look like? Who’s going to surprise us? ... Who’s going to be that diamond in the rough that’s going to come out of nowhere?

“It’s always that kind of challenge ... It’s kind of like a chess game.”

Smith and his staff have been masters at this game since HLV went to 8-player football in 2012. There have been five seasons of nine wins or more during that span and the other two ended with seven wins. Smith is 153-67 as a head coach, 61-17 the past seven seasons.

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After three days of camp last week, Smith said assistant coach Joe Simmons figured this season “might test our coaching ability to see what we can make out of this bunch.”

The guess here is that’s a “problem” every year, one these coaches relish — and solve — each fall.

“We’ll line them up and let them play,” Smith said. “We’ll see what we can do.”

Smith isn’t a classroom teacher at HLV, but he takes his role as a teacher of football players very seriously. He subscribes to something the late Ed Thomas said while coaching at Aplington-Pakersburg.

“‘If all we teach is football, we failed,’” Smith said, adding another line he once heard, “If you’re doing it for money, you’re doing the wrong job.’”

“I don’t care about the hours,” he said. “When something goes right and you see the smile on their faces ... there’s no dollar amount that matches that.”

Smith loves football. He said the game teaches many life lessons, can get the school year off to a good start and can “pull a community together.

“It’s the anticipation of everything new and you’re the one who gets to start it,” he said.

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Twenty-two years is a long time at any job, but Smith doesn’t see this gig coming to an end anytime soon.

“I’ll keep coaching until it’s not fun anymore,” he said. “It’s still a lot of fun.”

And a new adventure awaits, starting Monday.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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