WAVERLY — Zoiee Smith has never met a stranger. Like, ever.
The sophomore three-sport star has quickly made her name known at Waverly High School, not just by her eye-catching performances, but with a vibrant personality that spreads laughter like wildfire.
This past fall, Smith led the Tigers to a 14-4-1 record on the pitch and put up 27 goals and 15 assists. Then, on the basketball court, the point guard led her team to 13 wins while learning some valuable lessons in leadership along the way.
I had the chance to catch up with Smith and discuss the toughest defenders she’s faced in each sport, what makes her such a “people person,” and much, much more.
Question: Overall, can you recap your sophomore soccer and basketball seasons?
Smith: Honestly, I expected more out of both soccer and basketball season. We had the work ethic and the talent to do damage in both. In soccer, we had the injury plague. Our starting goalie tore her ACL and then another starter, Kylie Smith, broke her leg. We made the most out of the season, however. This basketball season was different. We struggled at first to try to get the grasp of playing as a team. We put it all together and won the [Pike County] Holiday Classic. Kami [Knight] started to get in the swing, and passing her the ball and watching her do her thing was top-notch. We started to play as a team and had glimpses of what we could really look like, like against a really good Oak Hill team [when the Tigers won with a game-winning shot]. I do believe that if we would’ve won a few more games that didn’t quite go our way, we could still be playing right now.
Q: On the basketball court, what do you feel like you improved on most?
ZS: I didn’t really improve on anything skill-wise. I think I shot better, but my biggest improvement was how I delivered what I was saying. At the beginning of the season, I was just yelling and no one wanted to listen because it was coming off bad. Towards the middle and the end, I improved my delivery and was a lot more positive toward my teammates. If there was criticism, it was in a sandwich. I gave compliment, gave the criticism and then gave another compliment.
Q: Can you name the toughest defenders you’ve had to play against in both soccer and basketball?
ZS: In soccer, it’s more like the whole defense. Unioto’s defense and Wheelersburg’s defense both made me look slightly silly [laughing]. The best defender I’ve ever faced in a high school basketball game would either have to be [Wheelersburg alum] Ellie Ruby, who is crazy fast,
or [Miami Trace’s] Cassidy Lovett last year in the sectional semifinals. She literally was on me every step I took. Half of the game, she had her finger in my belly button [laughing].
Q: No matter the score, I don’t think I’ve ever seen John Bonifield or Chris Murphy stop coaching. What’s makes those guys such great coaches?
ZS: What makes John and Chris such good coaches is that they both love what theY do, and they have fun doing it. They both keep me and my teammates in every game, And they both bring the best out of me.
Q: You’re a people person. Is that how you’ve always been and have you ever met a stranger?
ZS: I’ve always been a people person. My mom always says I could be friends with a brick wall [laughing]. I love meeting and talking to new people. However, it also drives opponents crazy when I just start talking their ear off, so it definitely has it perks.
Q: Looking towards softball season, you guys are coming off winning a district title. What are the expectations heading into the season?
ZS: The expectations for this softball season are extremely high. A lot of people are doubting us. But we’re returning nine starters, and a lot of people that were in the dugout last year that can just flat crush the ball. We’re really looking forward to this season because we have a lot of things to prove.
Q: You’ve talked soccer, basketball and softball now. What’s your favorite?
ZS: Basketball. Definitely. I love everything about it.