Rollie Smith had always left a piece of his heart behind at Viking Village after graduating from Villa Angela-St. Joseph in 1999, but now he is officially coming home.
Vikings boys basketball coach Babe Kwasniak has announced that Smith will be added to the staff as an assistant for the upcoming 2015-2016 season. VASJ heads into the upcoming fall as defending Division III state champions, and the Vikings have won two state titles in the past three years and 100 games in Kwasniak’s five seasons on the bench.
Coming on board to a team with all that success would be exciting for anyone, but coming back to Viking Village to work with the players at his alma mater is as good as it gets for Smith.
“This is home for me, and the way Babe and (Coach) Tedd Kwasniak do things, I don’t know any other way,” Smith said. “It is very exciting and I am looking forward to the challenge. I just want to help the kids get the most out of themselves both on and off the court. It is important that they are well-rounded players and people.”
Smith was a sophomore guard on the 1997 VASJ state runner-up team coached by Tedd Kwasniak, and he played on both the 1998 and 1999 teams before moving on to play collegiately at Clarion. Smith is on several top 10 lists at Clarion for scoring, games played, 3-point shooting and assists. After college, Smith went on to play overseas.
Smith currently works out of Solon as a basketball trainer. Despite being a guard Smith said he is equally comfortable – if not more so – working with the post players.
Babe Kwasniak has always emphasized the importance of having former Vikings on staff – as exemplified by assistants on last year’s title team T.J. Kwasniak, Gary Wilson, Dale Thomas and Ashen Ward.
“Rollie is one of my dad’s all-time favorite players. He gives us yet another VASJ grad for our kids to emulate,” Kwasniak said. “He will concentrate on player development. He’s a natural when it comes to helping kids get better. I’m ecstatic about having Rollie back home in the Viking Village.”
Smith is in his early 30s and still plays the game at an elite level. Tedd Kwasniak said Smith came in as an unknown to VASJ and had to work hard for all his success. Kwasniak said the combination of basketball skill, knowledge and enthusiasm makes him ideal for the current Vikings staff.
“Rollie can still really play and he has been around the Village for a while and he has such a passion for the game. He is perfect for what I think Babe is looking for,” Tedd Kwasniak said.
“He has played at a high level and he loves our school and the players here. I think the kids will react very well to him.”