High School Sports

Clay Smith takes over Kahoks’ boys soccer program

Clay Smith won’t be lacking for things to do at Collinsville High.

Smith, 38, the girls soccer coach and assistant athletic director at the school, has been named the new boys soccer coach. He replaces Myles Hensler, who resigned last fall after serving three seasons.

“I was interested (in the boys position) five years ago when I was hired for the girls job,” Smith said. “That’s when Coach ‘Dige’ (Chris Digirolamo) ended up getting out. I expressed my interest in taking over both programs at that time, but the administration thought it would be too much for a first-year coach to take on both programs, which is understandable.

“So when this opportunity came about, I expressed my interest early. We had to make sure everybody was on board, but I think it’s a great decision, a great fit for the school and great for both programs to be brought together and put on the same page. It will be busy, but I love it.”

Smith, a 1995 graduate of Collinsville, played two years in the boys program and also competed in basketball and baseball. He was an assistant coach under Digirolamo for two years before replacing the late Ron Rowden in 2011. Smith is 64-22-6 in four seasons coaching the girls, with three regional championships and two sectional titles.

Smith said his approach with the boys team will be similar to the one he has adopted with the girls.

“I just had my first team meeting with the boys a couple of days ago and I told them I have been blessed with some great players in the girls program, and their success has come from the hard work they put into it,” Smith said. “So I’m going to go into it the same way that I worked with the girls and have them buy into a system and hard work and see if that pans out.

“Obviously, it’s a different game with the girls and the boys – speed of play and their strengths and weaknesses are different. But all in all, we want to play the same style of soccer. At the end of the day, it’s about putting that ball in the net.”