Story by KATRICE
Photos by TONYA
“Sports do not build character…they reveal it.” ~ John Wooden
Christian Smith is a 17-year-old junior at Memorial Day School. He is a Savannah native who moved to Pooler about seven years ago, along with his parents Althea and Patrick, sister Kristhea and brother Christopher. Christian transferred to Memorial Day School from Calvary Day School following his freshman year. As a math enthusiast, he aspires to attain a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Georgia; he loves those Dawgs. Though his dad is an avid University of Florida Gator fan, Christian is a Dawg to the core.
He asserts, “I just grew up a Dawg fan.”
Moreover, Christian understands his priorities. He is enrolled in both advanced placement and honors courses; he is committed to maintaining a high degree of overall academic success.
Christian began his athletic endeavors when he was only 4 years old. As football is his favorite sport, Christian has ambitions to play in the NFL or even the CFL one day, which are achievable goals for this remarkable young athlete. Presently, he is proud to be a Memorial Day Matador. In addition to football, Christian excels in baseball and basketball; he played all three sports over the past couple of years at Memorial and during his freshman year as a Calvary Day Cavalier.
For most of his life, Christian has been a truly versatile athlete, capable of successfully playing a variety of positions whenever needed. In fact, throughout his high school career, he has played both offensive and defensive positions on the field, including defensive end, linebacker, safety, fullback and kicker.
Christian has earned a variety of athletic accolades over the years. He was recognized as Memorial Day School’s Athlete of the Semester, an exceptional honor, as it recognizes student athletes who maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher. Last season, Christian was honored to participate in All-Region for both basketball and football. He was grateful to receive MaxPreps’ Player of the Game Award, while also qualifying to compete for the Darien Award for being such a well-rounded athlete.
Christian’s athletic ability is surpassed only by his noteworthy character. Most who are familiar with the stellar young man feel that he is a great example on and off the field. His self-respect, respect for authority and respect for others are values recognized by those who know him.
Christian appreciates his teammates for their efforts and hard work throughout the seasons. He feels privileged to be a part of the Matador Basketball Team, who earned their participation in the Final Four Playoffs last season. Just as impressive, the Matador Football Team qualified to participate in the State Championship last season.
Regarding all of his teammates, he states, “Without them, I wouldn’t be the athlete I am now. Everybody plays a part on the team,” he affirms.
It’s obvious that behind all great players are great coaches—those leaders who challenge the player’s overall potential. Christian is immensely proud to be under Coach Michael Thompson’s leadership.
“He’s the best coach I’ve had so far. When it’s time to perform on the field, he’s right there next to you. He was one of my teachers—he pushes me in the classroom. He’s the best coach I could ask for,” he remarks.
As Christian’s history teacher last year and as a current school administrator, Coach Thompson persists to ensure that Christian understands the importance in obtaining a good education. Coach Thomson knows that Christian is an extraordinarily talented athlete. He also feels that he is a bright example for other young people.
Concerning Christian, he states, “He’s definitely a hard worker. His leadership skills are there. What I like about Christian is that he’s very coachable. As a person, he’s definitely a ‘yes sir, no sir’ guy—very respectable. We all know that will take him a long way in life, especially with his character. He has a great head on his shoulders. With him taking education seriously, he’ll always be successful.”
Being recognized as one of the best players in the state, Christian was recently invited to represent “not only his community and state, but also country as a participant in International Sports Specialists, Inc.’s 29th Annual Down Under Sports Tournament in Australia” this summer. His invitation was sent directly to Coach Thompson this past December. Christian will be a member of the “East Conference Football Team,” which will include high-caliber high school athletes from other states across the country. The players will “unite and play against an Australian team” in various tournament games. The “international event” will allow the players to travel to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. Christian is incredibly grateful for the opportunity and is looking forward to it.
He comments, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m just blessed. I’m glad to be a part of it. I want to bring home that trophy for the U.S.”
Althea, who says that she is Christian’s “biggest fan,” is extremely proud of her son. She knows that the experience will be great for both Christian’s athletic and personal growth.
“It’s big. It’s different, and it’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” she proclaims.
Although Christian has already been selected for the team, the trip must be funded. Each participant is responsible for the cost of the trip. Understanding the financial requirements, the organization encourages players to acquire donations from family, friends, businesses and individuals within their communities. All donations are handled by Down Under Sports. Additional information can be attained by contacting the organization. Christian’s family whole-heartedly appreciates anyone who supports the phenomenal cause.
Christian is thankful for all the individuals who have inspired him, especially two of his biggest inspirations—his mom Althea and his dad Patrick.
“They support me 100%. They push me, knowing my abilities. They’re behind me no matter what…that’s family,” he insists.
Football is surely a big deal in this family.
“My brother played, and my little step-brother played. My daddy grew up watching football,” he reveals.
Christian enjoys other interests in his spare time. He likes to listen to music, watch SportsCenter and catch a few games on television when possible.
He wants all children to know that character, hard work and perseverance will take them a long way in life.
To young people, he comments, “Follow your dreams.”
Christian Smith is an impressive young man with a truly bright future. Whether athletically, academically or personally, there is no limit to his success.