CINCINNATI — Madison Smith can't wait to get started as the new girls soccer coach at Western Hills High School.
"My hope is to bring what soccer did for me as a young woman to the women here at West High," Smith said. "I am looking forward to not just building a team, but a long-lasting program that builds up strong women, on and off the field."
This fall will be the first time Western Hills has had a girls soccer program in several years, according to athletic director Phillip O'Neal.
"Madison is a smart and passionate young lady who we are excited to help revive our girls program," O'Neal said. "I have had numerous requests from faculty, students and community members on when will we bring back the program but I was waiting for the right person to come along. Madison is that person."
In 2019, the school added a boys junior varsity soccer team along with its varsity squad due to growing participation numbers.
"Now with a girls program we are establishing a great soccer foundation that will continue to grow for years to come," O'Neal said.
Smith, an Anderson High School assistant the past three years, says soccer has always been a part of her life even going back to the time she grew up in Northern Virginia.
"I quickly fell in love with the game, and more importantly, being a part of a team," Smith said. "I just loved being a part of something that was bigger than myself, and learned a lot about time management, discipline, and responsibility along the way."
Smith said there is plenty of anticipation for the Western Hills program this summer entering the fall. The team has an information session Monday afternoon with training scheduled to start July 14.
"I think for me what I am most excited about this season is building a new team for West High, and most importantly a team for women," Smith said. "There is a soccer club at West High, but a lot of the participants were male students, and so it will be really great to have an outlet specifically for the female soccer players."
Smith played four years at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she started and played as an outside back for 75 of 77 games. She graduated in 2016 with a degree in operations and information management and minors in statistics and Spanish.
She is currently a senior data scientist at Fifth Third Bank.
"One of the most important things to me upon graduation was ensuring that I continue to use my skills and experience as a black, female collegiate-athlete to give back to my local community and contribute to the development of other female athletes, on and off the field," Smith said.
Smith thoroughly enjoyed her time at Anderson where the team enjoyed plenty of success in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference and district tournament the past three seasons.
"While I have had a wonderful experience coaching at Anderson, I was interested in pursuing opportunities that would allow me to use my experience and my skills to help more women who look like me, which is what brought me to West High as it is a predominantly minority student high school," Smith said.
"My experience as a D-I athlete, coaching experience at Anderson, and just my ultimate passion for the game and building athletes on and off the field is what I believe that really resonated with Phillip to start re-building the program at West High."