Smith gains valuable lessons at NY summer sports camp

Release Date: 9/3/2014

Alex Smith learned a little bit about baseball this summer, but he learned even more about himself.

The sophomore marketing and management major from Springdale, Ark., spent eight weeks this summer serving an internship at Camp Pontiac, a summer sports camp in upper New York state. Smith, an outfielder on the Eagles baseball team, served as a baseball coach and counselor at the camp, which was for boys and girls ages 7 to 16.

Smith spent up to 15 hours a day, six days a week, coaching and managing youth players and teams. His duties includes organizing and running drills and managing teams at various tournaments throughout the area.

Alex Smith

Alex Smith, a sophomore marketing and management major from Springdale, Ark., worked this summer as a baseball coach and counselor at Camp Pontiac, a summer youth sports camp in upper New York state.

"It was a great experience because I got to spend the summer working with kids and being around baseball," Smith said. "I learned some things about baseball and different drills that I didn't know before, so that was neat. But the big thing was that I really matured as a person during those eight weeks."

Running and organizing a camp with hundreds of youngsters forced Smith to cultivate and hone several personal characteristics.

"I grew so much in regards to leadership and decision-making in my time there," Smith said. "Going into the camp I wasn't much of a leader, and being responsible for all these kids forced me to step up and be a leader. I also learned to make quick decisions on my feet. I think the whole experience helped me realize that I had those qualities in me but that I had never been in a position to use them.  It was really an eye-opening experience."

Smith learned about the internship through Ozarks Baseball Coach Jimmy Clark. Smith saw it as an opportunity to experience a different part of the country as well as to watch his favorite major league team, the New York Yankees, and their retiring all-star shortstop Derek Jeter.  He also saw it as an opportunity to get a first-hand taste of coaching baseball, something he said that he always considered pursuing.

"Even though I'm a business major, coaching is something that's always been in the back of my mind," Smith said. "I enjoyed the coaching experience more than I thought I would, but I'm still undecided about going that direction."

Smith not only got to see Jeter play in his final season, he was able to get in hiking and rafting trips in the area on his off days.

By the end of the camp, Smith said he realized the importance of being a strong role model for young people.

"I had all these kids who were looking up to me and it made me realize that I need to be making the right decisions and doing the right things because now I was the role model," he said. "It was really a life-changing experience because I had never been in a situation where kids were looking up to me and watching my actions. That definitely helped me mature."