Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Tom Southard

Coach Smith reflects back on long coaching career


Tom Southard

Coach Smith stands at the score table making sure that everything is ready for the next game.

Kimball High Activities Director, Ken Smith, is still busy with his many duties of making sure all of the athletic events the school is involved in are scheduled, officials, and all the people needed to host an event are in place, and that he is on hand to handle any thing that needs handled, but he no longer has to schedule practice sessions, watch game film of opponents, or make scouting trips. He turned that over to Chauncey Pedersen, his assistant for the past five years. Coach Smith stepped down this year after coaching the Kimball girls for the past 12 years.

Coach Smith gave it up after a successful season a year ago, and he left the program in good shape for coach Pedersen. He leaves the coaching ranks just 8 wins shy of 300 with a head coaching record of 292 wins and 167 losses. He actually has served 18 years as a head coach at Kimball High, plus 3 years as an assistant to the boys' program. Along with his 12 years as head of the Kimball girls' program, he served 6 years as head coach for the Kimball boys, and in 2004-05 he coached both programs at the same time. He also was head girls coach at Burns, Wyoming for 4 years and that totals up to 21 years as a head coach. His record is envious, to say the least, and through the years he has accumulated many memories. I asked Coach Smith to share some of his special memories with us.

"After 28 years of coaching, it is hard to pick highlights because there were so many good things to choose from. The numerous players who played for me over the years made coaching my passion for a long time. I was able to coach some outstanding individuals as well as some very talented athletes. The coaches I worked under as an assistant, and my own assistant coaches, and the relationships I was able to build with them were highlights. Two of my former players served as my assistant coaches over the years and that was neat."

Smith went on to say that the 15 conference championships that his Kimball teams won, both regular and tournament titles, were always a great feeling, and the five all-star games he was selected to coach in over the years were great memories. "It was fun to coach the players I worked so hard to beat during the seasons. The friendships that I shared with the coaches I competed against would be another highlight," he said.

"Maybe the greatest highlights would be the years that my teams made it to the state tournament in both Wyoming and Kimball. All three state tournament trips here at Kimball were highlights, however, the 1999 State Tournament would have to stand above the rest. It was a story book season until the last day. We were 24-0 and playing North Bend Central for the state championship and the wrong team won, however that is a year I will never forget. It doesn't get much better than that."

Smith went on to say that yet another highlight was being able to coach his daughter Allee, step daughter Kayli Rageth, and stepson Brenden Rageth. "Not many people get that chance, and that was pretty special," he said.

With his coaching days over, at least for the present, Ken can now have more time to get back to Kearney to see his daughter Allee and her family as he now has grand children to make over. He has also been able to get up to Chadron and watch step daughter Kayli play her college basketball as the top scorer this season for the Lady Eagles. She learned well from Dad-coach! In the meantime, we will still see Ken Smith busy with all of his duties of making sure everything is ready for all of those games, and other activities that Kimball hosts. He has class room duties as well. Thanks Coach Smith for your years of instructing young people on the ways to play winning basketball. See you at the gym.


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