Smithers Lacrosses Into Teaching


Photo K. Corwin

Smithers hopes to become more involved in Robinson High School in his first year as an English teacher.

Ashlea Daniels, Profiles Assistant Editor

While he is a new teacher, Eric Smithers is by no means new to Robinson. The former editor of the South Tampa magazine, Smithers was first involved in Robinson six years ago when he started coaching the boy’s lacrosse club. Today, he teaches English and Social Media, as well as coaching boys lacrosse, now a varsity sport.

Smithers didn’t originally see himself as a teacher. He received a BA in journalism from USF in 2008 and had worked in the journalism industry since graduation.

“I thought I was going to be a journalist for the next 20 years and then retire,” Smithers said. “I’d spent almost 10 years as a journalist and I was content with it for a while, and then I started coaching the boys lacrosse team.”

“Being around the guys daily, it kind of unraveled something within myself that I didn’t know I had and that was a love for being around young people and being a mentor for them. So, feeling a little unfulfilled in my own job I decided that I wanted to try something else, and make this more of a full time effort.”

Coaching and teaching require a similar skill set: good leadership, effective communication with kids, and working to provide an accepting environment in which kids can excel. However, the lacrosse field is a bit different than the classroom.

“I can’t calm my students down with a whistle, and it really helps me out when I’m on the field and I can just blow a whistle and everybody just stops what they’re doing,” said Smithers. “But, I’m a very transparent person, on the field and in the classroom, [so] it’s never a situation where I have to put on my coaching hat or put on my teaching hat.”

Smithers attributes much of his passion for journalism to his high school journalism teacher.

“She gave me a necklace my senior year of a lacrosse stick. She was a stat keeper of her high school lacrosse team and her lacrosse coach gave it to her and she gave it to me and it means a lot to me.”

Smithers still owns the lacrosse necklace given to him by his high school journalism teacher.
Photo K. Corwin
Smithers still owns the lacrosse necklace given to him by his high school journalism teacher.

After coaching the lacrosse team for six years, Smithers was able to understand the atmosphere surrounding Robinson long before stepping into a classroom.

“I’d like [my students] to learn that we have an incredible culture at this school, having witnessed it and been apart of it, I feel that it’s lost on kids and people as a whole sometimes- how incredible this school actually is, ” said Smithers. “I’ve seen other schools, I’ve seen other cultures, it’s not like this and I hope that they take away from it that they were a part of something tremendous, something that’s more than the typical high school experience.”