Erin Smith of Sparta is a planner - on and off the field.


Erin Smith is a planner on and off the soccer pitch. Smith, a junior at Sparta, plays sweeper for the Spartans and she is constantly analyzing the action on the field and directing her teammates to deal with offensive threats from their opponents as they materialize during matches.
“She organizes our defenses and directs traffic. I can hear her telling people where to go and who they should guard,” said soccer coach Jack VanderLaan.
VanderLaan got to know Erin last season when both of them were involved with the junior varsity team and judging from all of the nice things he had to say about Smith, it is plain that he is very pleased to be coaching her at the varsity level this year. He rattled off a list of her attributes as fast as we could write them down: mature, trustworthy, level headed, coachable, responsible, and communicative.
The coach went on to inform us that Erin represents a good mix in that she is very competitive and does not like to lose, but at the same time she practices excellent sportsmanship and treats her opponents and the officials with respect. In the event of a loss Smith can be a little hard on herself if she believes she made mistakes, but she keeps things in perspective and recovers to being her regular, friendly self quickly.
“[Erin] is one of the kids who keep you coaching,” VanderLaan concluded. “The type of kid you would like to have a whole team of.”
For her first two years of high school, Erin was a three sport athlete with volleyball and basketball in addition to soccer. She skipped playing basketball this past season but will be returning to the court next year. Of the three sports basketball is her favorite because she enjoys the intensity of it. She enjoys the physical aspect of soccer and defined it as “football without shoulder pads”.
Smith began running a couple of years ago as a way to stay in shape all year round. She made it a goal to compete in the Riverbank Run and met that goal just recently. She and her friend Brittany Johnson competed in the 10k run. They did quite well for a first time effort, finishing tenth and fourteenth respectively out of 68 runners in their division. Erin is planning on running the 25k next year and hopes to do well in the longer event. Smith related that running is something she can see herself doing for the rest of her life, she enjoys the way it calms her down.
Erin does very well in the “student” part of being a student athlete. She maintains a 4.0 GPA and she is taking an AP calculus class this year and has three AP classes on schedule for next year. Erin is a member of the National Honor Society and participates in the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC). She was also listed in the Who’s Who of Middle School students as an eighth grader. Smith told us that she really enjoyed her Experiential Learning class (cadet teaching) the most of all her classes this year. She was able to assist in a classroom of 25 second graders with their language arts curriculum.
Erin loves kids. When we spoke with her she was fresh from her very regular baby-sitting job where she takes care of four youngsters ages 8,7,5, and 3 years old.
“Kids are fun. They don’t care what anybody thinks, they say and do what they like,” Erin commented. “No matter what you do for them, they think you are just great.”
Part of Erin’s plan for the future will involve being in contact with kids every working day. She is gearing up to attend Aquinas College with the intention of becoming a Pediatric Nurse. When asked if she thought her plans might change in the next year or so, she was very definite about having made up her mind.
Victor and Kristie Smith could not be more proud of Erin. They both expressed how fortunate they feel for having such a hassle free daughter. The Smiths echoed coach VanderLaan when they described Erin as having a great personality and being able to get along with everybody. Kristie is somewhat surprised out how outgoing and confident with people Erin can be. Victor bragged about her baking skills – it seems he is partial to her oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
“She is a great kid,” Victor Smith concluded. “One of those who makes parenting easy.”
As we neared the end of our conversation with Erin and listed off everything she does, we asked how she managed to keep track of her sports, schoolwork, babysitting and a social life.
“I would be completely lost without my planner,” was Erin’s answer.
She related that when she entered high school she was given a planner and has made use of one ever since. Whatever it is that she is putting in her planner, Erin Smith seems to be making it work in every aspect of her life. We wish her the best as she continues to work her plan.
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