After 10 seasons heading up the Blaine volleyball program, varsity head coach Jacquie Smith is retiring. Smith held coaching positions at the varsity, junior varsity and middle school levels for Blaine over the past decade, and has coached for 26 years.
Now, after a career full of highlights including leading the 2018 team to a 9th-place finish in the state tournament – something Blaine volleyball hadn’t done in 20 years – and being named Blaine school district coach of the year in 2019, Smith is passing the torch.
“Blaine was my home for many years. I raised my children in the community, they attended school and graduated from BHS,” Smith told The Northern Light. “Even though I wasn’t born and raised here, it always felt like home to me; a small town, supportive of athletics, with great people, including the players and families.”
Smith announced her plans to retire to the 2023 team after their end-of-season banquet in early November, but the decision wasn’t official until the school board made the announcement during its November 27 meeting. Smith said after a long career, the timing just felt natural.
“I’m retiring now because I feel good about my 10 years at Blaine,” Smith said. “I always told myself I want to leave when it feels good. I look forward to spending more time with my family.”
Her career was full of firsts to the very end. On November 15, first team All-Northwest Conference outside hitter Teya Zaddack officially committed to play at Western Washington University. Zaddack was Smith’s first player to sign for a NCAA Division II school.
Besides the accolades and state tournament runs, Smith said she’s most grateful for the relationships that she was able to build, and the opportunity to educate countless student-athletes on and off the court.
“My favorite thing about coaching in Blaine is definitely forming relationships with the players over the years,” Smith said. “Sharing my passion and knowledge for the sport, watching their growth and development and hoping they take something away from our program relating to volleyball, life or being a kind and grateful human.”
Smith admits that it takes an incredible amount of effort and dedication to operate a high school volleyball program. Many nights went sleepless over practices, upcoming matches, team relationships, and balancing it all with family life, Smith said.
But looking back on a decade with Blaine volleyball and over half her life coaching around northwest Washington at Sehome, Concrete and Bellingham high schools, Smith is grateful.
“I am grateful to the fans that came out to watch us play,” Smith said. “I appreciate the support of the athletic department, school district and coaching staff. I want to say thank you to my family, the people in my life personally who have supported me throughout. I’m so happy to have met many wonderful families and I will always be a fan of BHS, because it’s always a great night to be a Borderite.”
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