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The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

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Alumna to be honored for pioneer role, outstanding career in girls basketball

Jamie Smith didn’t just excel on the court. She fought for the right to play on it. Knights to honor her trailblazing role by retiring her jersey next Wednesday
The 1976-1977 Knights featured a phenom freshman named Jamie Smith. “Jamie was as mature as her senior counterparts on the court,” said head coach Robert “Doc” Brock, former north Austin all-sports trainer. “She was just what we needed after losing Tina Powers to graduation.” Smith led the Knight offense by averaging 25 points per game in her freshman season. (1977 Knight file photo)

Not only did Mac alum Jamie Smith find her place on the basketball court during her time in high school, but she created it too. Smith attended Lamar Middle School from 1974 to 1976, and was later a student at McCallum from 1976 to 1980. When attending Lamar, she asked to play basketball on the boys basketball team in the seventh grade, and the school denied her request.

As a result, Smith advocated for a girls basketball team to be created at the middle school level, and after several meetings with parents, principals and lawyers, middle schools throughout AISD and neighboring school districts began implementing girls basketball into their sports programs.

Due to her groundbreaking work to build the girls basketball programs not only at Lamar and McCallum, but throughout AISD and neighboring school districts, Jamie Smith’s jersey number 22, will be retired on Wednesday. 

“[She set the] tone for all of us currently coaching and playing. Seeing how that opportunity is something she had to fight for, [she] needs to be rewarded,” current McCallum head girls basketball coach Carly Kehn said. “She did the hard work so we could enjoy the fruits of her labor.”

[She set the] tone for all of us currently coaching and playing. Seeing how that opportunity is something she had to fight for, [she] needs to be rewarded. She did the hard work so we could enjoy the fruits of her labor.

— Carly Kehn

Smith first became interested in basketball after visiting her uncle in Brock, Texas. After discovering the sport, she couldn’t stay out of the gym. 

“I was a self-motivator,” Smith said. “I just loved basketball. They would just give me a key to the gym and I would come in and shoot for hours. I wouldn’t leave the gym until I made 25 for 50 free throws in a row.”

At the time, girls basketball was played half-court, with three players from each team on either side of the court. It wasn’t until Smith’s junior year when girls began playing full court 5 on 5.

Ronda Lawrence, a friend and former teammate of Smith’s who played with her from seventh grade to 12th grade, said that Smith is a wonderful person and player.

“She is the most joyful person on the planet,” Lawrence said. “All she does is spread joy and smiles everywhere she goes, but she’s also extremely motivated and committed to everything she does. Playing basketball was great because I got to play with Jamie and other friends.”

When Smith was denied a spot on the boys basketball team at Lamar, she convinced school officials to create girls basketball teams so that she and other girls could play the game at Lamar, at McCallum and throughout the district. (Courtesy of Smith)

 

At the end of her high school basketball career, Smith had accumulated over 3,400 points and had an average of 27 points per game full court and an average of 42 points half court. Smith won many awards throughout her time at McCallum such as First Team All-District ’76-’77, First Team All-District ’77-’78, Third Team All-State ’78-’79, Second Team All-State ’79-’80 and many more.

After high school, Smith went on to play two years at Delta State on a full-ride scholarship. Later, she transferred and graduated from Texas State. In her senior year at Texas State, she was the team captain.

Jamie Smith stats and awards over the course of her high school basketball career. Graphic by (Evelyn Jenkins)

“I loved the discipline it gave me,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t be who I am without that experience. Basketball took me all over the country and the world. It took me to Japan and China and I got to play with Athletes in Action.”

After years of playing,  Smith moved on to coaching. She was a volunteer coach for the University of Texas girls basketball team when they won their national championship in 1986. Later, she was a middle school coach in Pflugerville for 15 years and a school administrator for 13 years.

“I knew basketball was my key to go anywhere I wanted to,” Smith said. “It gave me so many opportunities.”

Smith’s accomplishments, which paved the way for female athletes for more than 40 years throughout Texas, will be honored at her jersey retirement ceremony. 

“Everyone that I’ve talked to that used to play with her or coach with her has said that this has been a long time coming and well deserved,” Kehn said. “I feel like we’re doing the right thing and sort of setting a precedent for everything that she has done, so it will be in the rafters forever.”

In her sophomore season, Smith was the high scorer for a single season in the history of District 26-4A. She scored 49 points against Austin High and scored 128 points in three games against Lanier (now Navarro). Smith reached her career game high of 52 points twice in her career, both times against non-district opponents. For the 1977-1978 season, she scored a total of 1,215 points. (1978 Knight)
Coach Carly Kehn, Jamie Smith and Coach Ivan Gonzalez pose underneath the No. 22 jersey banner to mark the retirement of Smith’s jersey. Kehn credits Smith with laying the foundation on which the girls basketball program was built. “She did the hard work so we could enjoy the fruits of her labor.” Photo courtesy of Kehn.
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  • J

    Judy Morris (Mac ‘58)Dec 24, 2023 at 11:48 am

    Congratulations from me, Jeff and Meredith (shared it with them too! 😀

    Reply
  • J

    justin hansenDec 15, 2023 at 9:09 pm

    Congrats Jamie! What an accomplishment!

    Reply