FLORENCE, S.C. – Wilson High School is turning to a familiar face to guide its baseball program.
Chipper Smith, the former Tiger standout pitcher and shortstop who has been an assistant for the past six seasons, takes over the lead role behind the bench.
Smith replaces Micah Young, who stepped down from coaching this past summer after serving as coach of the Tigers since 2016.
Graduating in 2011, Smith went on to pitch for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore – an NCAA Division I program. He returned to Wilson High as an assistant under Young.
“It’s a dream come true,” Smith said of coaching his alma mater. “I’m very excited about it. I’ve been back six years and was actually helping coach Young, who gave me the opportunity to be an assistant coach.”
Smith, who also played quarterback for the Tigers, has served as an assistant football coach for the last six seasons as well.
Coaching was not something he originally thought he’d get into, he said, but quickly changed his mind once he started.
“I never really thought I would coach,” Smith said. “But once I got out there, I kind of fell in love with it. Being able to impact a young man’s life or a young woman’s life as a student-athlete – to see them grow from a seventh-grader all the way through the program and into college is a great feeling.
“I think that’s my biggest thing as a coach. Yes I want to see them get better athletically, but seeing them fulfill their dream of playing at the next level or just going to the school they want to go to … that’s the best part about it.”
Having been a part of the program for so long, he thinks the transition should be a smooth one, Smith said as he prepares for his first head coaching gig.
“Coach Young prepared me well,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is the scheduling and the offseason work and making sure we’re staying on top of our grades and getting our work in the weight room – all of that falls on me now.”
Smith is also looking to build the program back to the level it was for many years, including winning the 3A state championship in 2002 and being a consistent playoff team.
“The kids see the banners and they see the posters and that’s where they want to get to,” he said. “They have to understand now the kind of work it takes to get there.”