Baseball has been Rick Smith’s love from the first time he laced up a pair of cleats and pulled on a ball cap.
“My dream in high school was to play at SC4 for (coach) Dick Groch,” Smith said. “I am so glad that dream came true, which really helped me move on to Grand Valley State University as an impact player. Dick had a way of getting players to be their best and could stretch your talents individually. I am truly grateful for the memories of being a Skipper.”
Smith, a Marysville graduate, played in the infield and outfield for SC4. In 1981 and 1982, following his career at SC4, Smith traveled to Grand Valley State University where he played for two years.
The hard-hitting outfielder earned First-Team All-GLIAC honors and was named a team captain. He helped the Lakers capture the GLIAC championship with a 32-11 record. Smith went on to Western Michigan University where he earned his sports administration degree.
He returned to SC4 and coached the Skippers for 16 years, winning the Michigan Community College Athletic Association title in 1994, and finishing as conference co-champions in 1992, 1993 and 1997. Smith, who lives on Sand Lake in Irish Hills at Onsted, Michigan, is in his 15th season as the Jackson College baseball coach. Between SC4 and Jackson, Smith has sent nearly 150 players to four-year schools.
“We tried to emphasize education first, which would bring good things to the table for our players. Moving players on to the four-year university ranks was important while developing their skills, which helped them become successful, like I was as a player at St. Clair. The network throughout the county and nearby counties was great and I now have a lot of lifelong friends while building relationships at St. Clair. I treasure the years as being the head coach at SC4.”
Smith’s son, Hunter is a senior pitcher at Tiffin University and will graduate with a management degree. His daughter, Laura, is a freshman shortstop at Tiffin. His wife Elly is the department head in criminal justice at Siena Heights University. She has been retired from the State Police for 16 years.