WOODSIDE — Kevin Smith had only been Polytech High’s football coach for two seasons.
But that was long enough for him to form a pretty tight bond with his players.
So Smith said that breaking the news to the Panthers last week that he was moving up to be the school’s athletic director wasn’t easy.
Since school policy is that administrators can’t coach, Smith will have to step down from his football position.
“It was awful,” Smith said about telling his players. “I guess it’s because I’m new here and they didn’t know me. With the way they welcomed me with open arms and were like, ‘Coach, we love you.’ ...
“When I told them I got the AD position, they gave me a standing ‘O’ — which was great. But then when I said, ‘Well, I’ve got some sort of bad news, I guess.’ Then I had to tell them about the other end of it.”
As athletic director, Smith is replacing Czar Bloom, who was a mid-year replacement for Pat Gallucci. Gallucci left Polytech to become the commandant at the new First State Military Academy.
Bloom, formerly a coach at Milford High, stepped down as AD so he could become the Panthers’ cross country coach in the fall.
Smith knows there’s not much time to find his replacement. The start of preseason camp is only about two months away.
The 38-year-old Smith said he’d like to find someone, “ASAP.” At the same time, he’s still around to monitor the weight room until a new coach is hired.
“I don’t want anybody panicking or anything like that,” said Smith. “I told the guys, ‘Look, I’m not dying, I’m not leaving, I’m here. I’ll do anything I can for you.’
“We’re not going to alter anything. If we don’t a head coach by June 15, it’s like I’m still the head coach. We’ll keep things moving. I’ll be there. I’ll make sure that everything is rolling. We’ll do our camps and everything like that.”
In his two seasons as coach, Smith led the Panthers to a record of 9-11. They had gone a combined 3-17 in the two previous years.
He wants Polytech to be able to keep building on that success. The school began advertising the opening last Wednesday.
“I know I was only there for two years, but it’s still my baby,” said Smith. “We made great strides in the last two years and got some things rolling. I want to make sure that everyone is secure.”
Smith, who will officially become AD on July 1, said he couldn’t rule out getting back into coaching some day. At the same time, getting into athletic administration was something he’s always wanted to try.
“That was a very, very tough decision,” said Smith. “It took me a few days and some sleepless nights to decide that after 15 years of being on the sideline. The first Friday in September is going to be tough.”
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or email@example.com.