Photos Cameron Flaisch
What do Tom Osborne of Nebraska, Nick Saban of Alabama, and Charles Smith of Rome Middle School all have in common?
They have all won numerous championships at their level of football, they all have an immeasurable impact on their players that carries over to the next level of play, and whenever either of them walks in a room, most feel that greatness has arrived. A trophy case is a trophy case no matter the level, and a person’s impact is important no matter how it is made.
To be a coach in youth sports a person must wear many hats. Mentor, father or mother-figure, community activist and teacher are just a few the men and women who wear the whistle must rest upon their heads.
Coach Smith wears them all and takes on any roles he feels will help to inspire young people. Some people, it seems, are just born to lead and a selfless approach to life is just as natural as running the ball on first and ten.
As a football coach of 20 years in the Rome area and, currently at Rome Middle, Coach Smith’s name rings loudly in the community. Two of his passions are helping people and working with kids. This 2018 Heart of the Community Award winner is the founder of the Building Positive Families Foundation, which spearheads parenting, life skills and
Smith is also the Founder of the Distinguished Gentlemen, a group of young elementary males who are being taught to act as the name of the club states, distinguished gentlemen. They dress in very dapper and professional attire by wearing sports coats and ties, they act as a gentleman should and they lead the way for their peers. They have appeared as ushers for social events around town and served their school system when called upon.
Smith is also employed by Rome City Schools as a Behavioral Interventionist at Anna K. Davie Elementary School, so his impact on kids is more social than sports. Coach Smith’s philosophy is that you must have an impact “beyond the field” to really make a difference.
In the football world, Charles Smith is a household name in many different ways. As a member of East Rome High School’s Back-to-Back (1977-78) championship football teams, he earned a scholarship to the University of Georgia and was a member of the 1980 National Championship team, as well as three SEC Championship teams with the Dawgs.
While serving as the middle school head football coach, he won multiple area and region championships. Under Coach Smith’s leadership, Rome made a name for themselves on the field almost immediately in seventh and eighth grade football, and added a sixth grade team in 2012.
After appearing in championship games at differing grade levels, Rome won its first championship in 2013 by winning the sixth-grade level trophy and the same group of players won again in 2015 as eight grade students. Those players, as well as those from the previous sixth grade team, all played on one or both of Rome’s Back-to-Back (2016-17) State Championship teams. They all benefitted from playing together and learning the system under Coach Smith at Rome Middle School.
“Starting in the sixth grade allows the kids to play together for six years,” he explains. “It also allows them to condition, workout, learn the system and become known in the program together. The three years in the Rome Middle program are important for learning high school expectation levels, high school competition levels, and for our athletes to find themselves and their potential football position. By the eighth grade, the players’ bodies give our coaches an idea of what position they may play in high school football.”
When he takes off his whistle and sits down, you have the family man, Charles Smith. Smith is the husband of Mrs. Regina Smith, and father of Toryan and Kiara Smith.
Smith took a few years away from RMS to coach and follow his children’s football and basketball careers. Toryan, a Rome High standout at linebacker, went on to graduate and play football for the University of Notre Dame. Kiara was a local basketball star who went on to play collegiately for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Regina, his wife, is a major player in the Building Positive Families Foundation as well as the Distinguished Gentlemen. She is also employed with Rome City Schools and is the concession stand manager for all events.
“Look for us to be around when we aren’t traveling. We don’t have much to do since the kids are grown and gone,” says the mentoring-focused coach. “It’s fun to be out and about and helping folks.”
You can’t mention Rome Middle and not mention Charles Smith. Make sure to check out the Rome Wolves’ middle school teams this fall as they embark on another year of learning, having fun and seeking championships.