Former Madison coach calls having basketball court named after him ‘a real honor’

Ceremony recognizing longtime coach Jeff Smith to take place after JV game Dec. 3.

The Madison High School basketball court will be named after Jeff Smith, a long-time Mohawks boys coach, but he understands this honor is more than about him and his overall record.

It also pays tribute to his former players, assistant coaches, and the sacrifices his family made.

Smith, 63, has spent 29 years teaching in the Madison Twp. district, and 23 of his 32-year coaching career there. He started coaching at Middletown Christian and ended his career at Madison. During that time, he won 406 games thanks to his former players.

“Nothing happens without players,” said Smith, who retired after the 2020 season. “The players made everything possible.”

So it was fitting that after the Madison school board approved naming the court after Smith, he was notified by a school board member and former player, Aaron Lawson, a 1998 graduate who started three seasons for the Mohawks.

“That made it really special,” Smith said. “This is a great honor.”

Smith is synonymous for basketball throughout the Middletown area.

In 1984, he began his high school coaching career at Middletown Christian when the Eagles were playing as an independent program and on a carpeted court. One sportswriter coined the phrase: “Round ball on the rug.”

Three years later, the Eagles joined the Ohio High School Athletic Association and soon enough Smith was guiding the program to its first sectional tournament victory.

In 1989, he left MCS to become an assistant women’s coach at the University of Dayton, but he and his wife, Denise, decided high school basketball was a better fit. So after one season with the Flyers, he returned to Middletown Christian, where he remained until 1994 when he was hired at Madison.

Smith knew he won 406 games, but he wasn’t sure how many times his teams lost. He eventually figured out it was 311.

“The losses are more painful,” he said. “But number wise, you reminder the wins.”

He was asked about his signature wins. He talked more about his players.

“Relationships last longer than wins,” he said. “I love basketball. I was blessed to do something I loved.”

While he retired two seasons ago, Smith still holds shooting camps on the side.

“I couldn’t go cold turkey,” he said with a laugh.


WHAT: Naming of Coach Smith Court

WHERE: Madison High School

WHEN: Dec. 3 between the junior varsity and varsity game against Arcanum

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