XENIA — Xenia High School has a new varsity football coach.
By unanimous approval of the Xenia Community Schools board of education, Trace Smitherman was named the coach during the Jan. 23 special session.
“I look forward to the challenge of growing young men,” Smitherman said. “That’s something that I’ve had the opportunity to do for 22 years now, but most recently at Stebbins. I’ve watched Xenia and have seen their kids, and I’m excited to be a part of their community.”
Xenia Community Schools Personnel Director Michael Earley said there had been “around two dozen applicants” that had applied for the position. The eight-person search committee, composed of members of the athletic department, faculty and community members, interviewed five candidates for the job.
“Without a doubt after we finished the two nights of interviews, we felt like we had arrived at the best candidate, and that was Mr. Smitherman,” Earley said.
Smitherman has been the head coach at Xenia’s Greater Western Ohio Conference American South division rival Riverside Stebbins since 2008. He’s been named the Miami Valley Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he was the 2015 Associated Press Southwest District Coach of the Year, and was a nominee for the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award.
Before coaching at Stebbins, Smitherman served as an assistant coach at Beavercreek High School.
Smitherman said he hadn’t spoken with the Xenia High football players yet, but said plans were in the works for that meeting to happen sometime later this week. He said no initial goals have been set at this time for next season’s team.
“It is a little soon to start establishing goals,” he said. “Ultimately, we want to win football games and be great people in our community. Ultimately, that’s where we’re headed. What the small steps will be that we’ll have to take to get to that point, we haven’t put that together at this point.”
Smitherman said there won’t be any troubles with playing his former team in future games.
“No, not at all. I love Stebbins. With what they have allowed me to accomplish, the A.D. and the coaching staff over there is fantastic. We’ll root for them nine weeks a year. Just like I believe they’ll root for me nine weeks a year,” Smitherman said.
The high school regular season is 10 weeks in length. Xenia will be playing Stebbins on that other week.
Earley said that one glaring statistic particularly got the selection committee’s attention: When Smitherman first began coaching at Stebbins, 12 percent of the team’s student athletes were scholar athletes. By 2015, that number had soared to 57 percent.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.