After a knee injury sidelined Sammi Goldsmith during her freshman season, it didn’t take long for the standout BR-90 Lynchburg point guard to reach some conclusions about her future plans.
She wanted basketball to be a part of it.
“I have always loved spreading my passion for the game of basketball, but I was not always sure that I wanted to coach as a full-time career”, said Sammi. Then came the injury, being sidelined, and off the floor. In describing the down-time, she added “I hated not being on the court. I immediately realized that I wanted basketball to be a part of my life for as long as possible.”
Fast-forward to Sammi’s senior season.
Just this past week, Sammi was voted the Best Guard in D3 Women's Basketball on HERO Sports, and selected into the “So You Want To Be A Coach” program put on by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. The highly competitive WBCA program invites just 50 candidates each year, spanning all three NCAA divisions.
The WBCA’s program assists female collegiate basketball players who are interested in pursuing a career in coaching women’s basketball by providing them with professional development and career advancement through education, skills enhancement, networking and exposure opportunities. The program also increases awareness regarding the availability of talented female basketball players who want to coach.
Sammi talks about the program in the following video:
Players must hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above, and have exhausted their final year of eligibility at a four-year institution, or graduated in the past year. Candidates are nominated by their coach, who must be an active WBCA member, and are expected to be a credit to their sport, both on and off the court as well as being a player who wants to pursue a career in coaching.
Sammi credits her Bishop McGinness High School coach Brian Robinson for laying the groundwork for her basketball success. “His philosophy stresses fundamentals and true team basketball.” She attributes her ability to make an immediate impact at the college level to his preparation, “those skills helped me immensely when I came to Lynchburg College to play for Abby Pyzik-Smith.”
Then coach Smith took over.
“Coach Pyzik-Smith took the reigns and pushed me to reach my potential. She emphasizes mental toughness and hard work, and her passion for developing a winning culture is admirable, and I decided to put my full faith in her. It is because of that trust I have developed into both the person and player I am.”
And a player she is!
Sammi started all 27 games her junior season, setting the single-season assist record and closing the season with 142 assists. She matched the single-game mark of 10 helpers, twice, and finished second in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference with 5.3 assists per game, just one of two players to average over five assists.
So far this season, Sammi’s 6.8 assists per game ranks her tied for the fifth spot in all of Division 3 Women’s Hoops, and with 115 total assists she places sixth. She earned honors as our Hero of the Week two weeks ago with her 14-assist performance at BR- 320 Meredith, shattering her own school record for assists in a game. Earlier in the season, she set a new career assist mark at LC.
Coach Smith’s guidance has produced its share of coaches. Ben Sarraf was her first assistant, and is currently an assistant coach at BR-131 Plattsburgh State, and her second assistant, Jenny Logan is now the head coach at BR-391 Hollins University.
Smith’s former players have made their way back to the bench as well. Katie Crump, who graduated in '12, went on to coach at BR-127 Salisbury, BR-362 Washington College, and is now at BR-277 Berry College as an assistant coach. Ann Dorris graduated in '14, and is currently Smith’s assistant coach at Lynchburg. “We have been very fortunate to have a lot of great young coaching minds come through our program”, Smith adds.
With respect to Sammi and her on-court presence, Smith has nothing but praise for her senior playmaker, “As a player you always can see things that sometimes as coaches we can't. Sammi does just that consistently. A lot of times she can read my mind on what play I want called. She has a good pulse on the team and great instincts.” notes Smith.
Asked how she felt Sammi would be as a coach, and if her coaching philosophy may have rubbed off on her student, Smith added, “I think every coach takes a little bit from here and a little bit from there to make it their own and I know Sammi will do just that. Sammi is a strong and confident young woman that will give everything to the game. She believes in relationships and motivating. She is a huge student of the game and never stops learning.” Smith went on further to add, “That is huge for a coach. You always want to get better. If I have a daughter one day, I would be thrilled for them to have the opportunity to play for Coach Goldsmith. A tremendous person and a soon to be great coach.”
The three-day program takes place during the WBCA Convention the first week of April, in Indianapolis.
“I am extremely thankful to be chosen to partake in such an amazing program,” Sammi said. “I am excited for the opportunity to learn more about the coaching world, meet other young women with similar aspirations to mine, and represent both Lynchburg College and Division III Athletics.”
For now, we’ll be reporting on the remainder of Sammi’s senior season as she and the Hornets make a push toward the NCAA Tournament in March. However, we have a feeling that it won’t be too long, until we’re covering the progress of a team with Coach Sammi Goldsmith at the helm.