Tim Smith, in his first varsity coaching position, has quite the task ahead of him.
After two seasons of coaching Tunstall’s junior varsity girls team, Smith is now the head coach of the varsity squad, a group that went 0-18 last season.
Early on in his tenure, he’s already made one thing abundantly clear.
“We’re not looking at last year. That’s already done for,” he said. “You’ve got to have a short-term memory. Last year is in our rear-view mirror. We don’t even discuss it.”
Instead, Smith likes to look toward the future, where he sees his team putting together a season to be proud of.
“All of [the players] are hungry to achieve success,” he said. “We’re a program that’s going to build that success, starting with this year.”
Still, Smith recognizes his team will likely carry that mark of a winless team until they can prove to be otherwise.
“We’re going to be coming in as an underdog. I’m sure everybody is going to overlook us,” he said. “But when the season starts, we have a great group of dedicated girls.”
Smith will look to junior Kayleigh Griffith, an all-district player last year, to spearhead much of the team’s attack. He said he’ll also rely on the team’s three seniors — Aliyah Barbour, Jaya Crews and Deaja Porter — for their veteran presence throughout the season.
“The seniors have a lot of leadership and experience,” Smith said. “The experience and leadership are already there. That’s not what we’re worried about. The three seniors are the leaders on the court — coaches on the court — and they’ll make sure the job gets done. They’ll hold everybody accountable knowing this is their last go-round in high school basketball.”
Elsewhere on the roster, the Trojans have Octavionna Morton, Demiree Spina and Micah Ritter in the junior class along with Griffith. Emma Howell, Makiah Tarpley and Kalynn Van Der Hyde make up the sophomore group, and freshman Gaby Elliott rounds out the roster.
“We’re going to play team ball. Everybody has a role, and we expect them to fulfill that role,” Smith said. “Our goal is to play team basketball and do what we have to do to win the game.”
In addition to picking up some wins, Smith hopes to see the team improve in all aspects of the game day by day.
“We’re looking for a strong work ethic, dedication, buying into the program so we can achieve great things,” he said. “We’ve got a hungry group of girls that are doing great, learning, picking up on the fly. … We have a whole lot of go-getters. They know what our goal is.”
Parker Cotton is a sports reporter at the Martinsville Bulletin and Danville Register & Bee. You can reach him at (276) 638-8801 ext. 215. Follow @ByParkerCotton.
Tunstall girls basketball schedule
All games begin at 7 p.m., unless noted
Dec. 3: Tunstall at Gretna
Dec. 5: Staunton River at Tunstall
Dec. 10: Tunstall at Dan River
Dec. 12: Chatham at Tunstall
Dec. 17: Tunstall at Bassett
Dec. 19: Dan River at Tunstall
Dec. 20: Martinsville at Tunstall
Dec. 27: Tunstall vs. TBD at Rockingham County Tournament
Dec. 28: Tunstall vs. TBD at Rockingham County Tournament
Jan. 3: Patrick County at Tunstall
Jan. 7: Halifax County at Tunstall
Jan. 8: Gretna at Tunstall
Jan. 10: Tunstall at George Washington
Jan. 13: Tunstall at Staunton River
Jan. 14: Tunstall at Magna Vista
Jan. 21: Bassett at Tunstall
Jan. 24: Tunstall at Martinsville
Jan. 28: Tunstall at Patrick County
Jan. 29: Tunstall at Chatham
Jan. 31: Tunstall at Halifax County
Feb. 4: George Washington at Tunstall
Feb. 7: Magna Vista at Tunstall