By Jimmy Stevenson
The 1994 Women’s NCAA National Basketball title game ended victoriously for the UNC Tar Heels thanks to junior forward Charlotte Smith’s buzzer beater. Now, almost 18 years later, Smith is the head Women’s Basketball coach for the Elon Phoenix.
Only months into her first season as the head coach, Smith is already meshing well with her new group of girls.
“I absolutely love those young ladies,” said Coach Charlotte Smith. “You know they inspire me everyday to get up and want to be a better coach and continue to work hard to help them to be the best they can be.”
Smith became the most decorated women’s college ball player in North Carolina history after playing for the Tar Heels from 1992 to 1995.
After traveling the world for a few years playing professional hoops, Smith landed herself in the WNBA where she played eight seasons.
During those eight seasons she also coached at UNC for a total of ten years. As an assistant coach at Chapel Hill, Coach Smith’s team made it to the Final Four in 2006 and 2007.
Although she has coached for a decade at a very successful ACC school, Smith has never been a head coach, until now. And the new position comes with new goals.
“We talk about being Southern Conference Champions,” Smith said . “That’s our ultimate goal. And I’m very, very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.”
Up to this point the Phoenix have 10-9 record, and under Coach Smith their home record is 7-2. Part of this success comes from Coach Smith’s ability to connect with her players.
“A lot of the things that they’ve experienced I’ve already experienced,” Smith said. “And so my thing is just being transparent, sharing you know my disappointments, my hopes, my fears, my dreams, all of those things, that’s real to people.”
Such a relationship this early on will only help the lady Phoenix become what Coach Smith believes they can be champions.
“I actually moved out into a neighborhood, and when I went through the neighborhood and I saw a street sign, it said ‘Championship Drive,’” Smith said. “I said this is where I have to live because when my team comes to my house I want them to always have to come down Championship Drive.
The remainder of the season will be in-conference play for the ladies with the SoCon tournament starting in early March.