FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
July 30, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) – It’s time to get excited because opening day is less than seven months away! Ok, when you say it like that it deflates your balloons a tad. But there’s no reason to remain anxious for that first pitch in a stadium filled with dizzying aromas of burgers and leather gloves.
A brand new coaching staff will await UCF fans on Feb. 20, and www.UCFAthletics.com sat down with each of them so the community could get to know what these Knights are all about. Volunteer assistant coach Aaron Smith happily agreed to serve as part one of this four-part series, and he quickly admitted that the state of Florida is a whole new experience.
Smith had made just one trip to the Sunshine State in his life, which happened to be a weekend at the Jacksonville University Invitational last season when he was the volunteer assistant for UNC Wilmington. A former Seahawk himself, Smith, however, has already formed an opinion about the growing UCF campus.
“This university is beautiful and the facilities are off the charts,” commented Smith. “I think the first thing we all say is that everything is in place for us to win a lot of games here and be very successful. But to be honest, I haven’t been around Orlando a whole lot besides driving to the apartment and to the office. I do know that at about five o’clock we pretty consistently get that thundershower.”
Learning Florida weather patterns is coming quickly to Smith. What is still to be determined, though, is if he will bring any superstitions with him to UCF.
“As a coach, it’s funny and hard to explain. I’ve got some major OCD, so I’ve got to be neat and if we are winning a lot of games I will have a lot of little superstitions,” admitted Smith, who was a shortstop in college. “There’s nothing that I do all of the time, it’s just certain things that I feel I have to be done in order for me to do my job.
“As a player, in between pitches I always took a deep breath, looked at the barrel then tapped the barrel onto my helmet. Every at-bat I would do that. I don’t know if that was a superstition since it was a routine thing of mine and I didn’t even think about it.”
His approach at the plate at UNC Wilmington certainly helped boost his statistics. As a result, Smith went on to play for the Arizona League Cubs in 2004 and eventually the Class-A Peoria Cubs in 2005. By traveling across the Midwest, he discovered certain parts of the country he really loved visiting.
“My favorite ballpark to play in was definitely in Dayton,” said Smith. “They had a beautiful playing surface and a packed stadium. I liked our own place in Peoria, too. But I liked Quad Cities because they had a few casinos and we enjoyed going to those after games.”
Whether he was on the road as a player or now checking into hotels as a coach, the newspaper lying outside his door only includes one section he appreciates.
“Sports, sports, sports. That’s all I read. I just throw the rest away.”
While Smith ventures off to read today’s sports section, check back soon for part two of the series when we meet up with assistant coach Jeff Palumbo.
For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com – the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF’s new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.