On July 19, head baseball coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, Tracy Smith, became the foundation’s first college coach Teammate. Smith, who was named the NCBWA National Coach of the Year in 2013, has strong feelings about his commitment to Teammates.
“I have had the good fortune of observing Teammates For Kids the past few years, and I have seen first-hand the impact the foundation has made on the lives of underprivileged children,” Smith said. “Knowing the role the athletes play in making this a reality, I always wondered how I could help. Being a coach, I not only try to teach our players the skills of their trade, but I also try to teach them the importance of giving back. Because of this, it just made sense for me to want to spread the word of Garth’s Foundation to the future professional athletes that pass through our program. I am humbled to be a part of what Garth and his Foundation are doing for kids around the world, and I’m hoping that more of my colleagues will become involved, as well.”
Smith’s dedication was praised by Teammates Co-Founder Garth Brooks. “This is an excellent idea. To plant the concept of 'giving back' in these athletes at such an early age is crucial,” said Brooks. “These students will learn the most important lesson--you get the most back when you give. Tracy is not our first NCAA teammate because he is the Coach of the Year; he is our first NCAA teammate because he gets it and he fits in with all the other ‘first signees’ in each sport--guys like Larry Walker in baseball, Shjon Podein in hockey and Chris Paul in basketball, just to name a few. They are all champions in their sport but even bigger believers in helping the world’s needy children."
Smith is a 1988 graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. As a professional, he was selected in the 1988 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs. He played three seasons of minor league baseball before retiring following the 1990 season. In 2013, the Indiana University Hoosiers won the Big Ten regular season and titles. For the first time, Indiana was selected to host an NCAA Regional. After winning the regional, the Hoosiers won the Tallahassee Super Regional to advance to the program's first College World Series.