Smeins readies for fall season
Bryce Smeins has worn nearly every athletic hat prior to his current gig with the Washington School District as athletic director. He coached baseball, softball, basketball, track, golf and football all at the prep level. He was even a physical education teacher. He has 13 years of experience as an athletic director and is in his 32nd year as basketball coach.
His job, much like any other job in sports, is a perpetual cycle.
“In the AD (athletic director) world seasons just change,” Smeins said. “The athletic department never ends.”
With the coming season just around the corner, some level of restlessness, anxiety and nervousness could be expected. For Smeins, it’s the opposite.
“It’s always exciting to have a new school year,” Smeins said. “Different activities and different faces on the playing field — it is an exciting time to get school started.”
His three fall sports teams — volleyball, football and cross-country — have left him optimistic about the coming season.
Demon football is back to being a consistent performer after making the postseason the past two years.
“Our football program [is at] a high level, I would say,” Smeins said. “There are expectations for that team right now. They had a great year last year.”
Head coach Randy Schrader already occupies a Hall of Fame spot at North Scott High School, and he coached at the college level.
“He has done a good job of [elevating the program],” Smeins said.
Volleyball is in good hands with new coach, Julianna Berg, who played at Keota and Missouri, according to Smeins.
Cross-country head coach Steve Roth has worked a combined 38 years in football, track and cross-country.
“He’s really a legend in southeast Iowa in the track world,” Smeins said. “Everyone probably statewide knows him. He is a full-blown Demon.”
Smeins puts in 70-hour workweeks regularly. Even though the busy schedule of an athletic director takes up much of his time, he says that he realizes the hard work is worth it when he sees the players take the field.
“I really enjoy the job, but it’s a time-consuming job,” Smeins said. “I like getting to watch kids participate in athletics.”
Smeins said his busiest day is Friday night football, typically a 15-hour workday. He preps the field, lights and scoreboard prior to the game. The cones and the press box get set up around noon. With freshman games starting at 5 p.m., he gets to the field by 3:30 p.m. The day concludes with the cleaning of the press box and turning off the lights.
He added that home football games are unique because there are only four to five games a year.
With the fall sports season on the horizon, Bryce Smeins said all the kinks — painting the field, checking lights and scoreboard among others — are being smoothed out. Smeins said his favorite part of his job is no day is the same.
“It varies day to day what goes on here,” Smeins said. “We work on scheduling, concessions stands, assigning workers and arranging booster clubs. We have to have an ambulance and make sure inventory is stocked for all the teams. A lot of our work is done at night. ”
He doesn’t do all the work. Secretary Karla Garrett helps out in maintaining organization in the athletic department.
Smeins said he was fortunate enough to have a pair of his own kids suit up for the Demons. His wife works at University of Iowa in the medical department.
One of the most difficult aspects of his work on the athletic side — other than suspending players — is the small size of Washington’s league.
During basketball season, there are just eight league games for the five conference teams. This leaves Smeins with the duty of scheduling 13 non-conference games that are competitive and nearby. This is also the season where he gets to coach a team.
As a coach, Smeins also knows when his players are facing a top rival. For Washington, that rival comes in the form of a panther — Mt. Pleasant.
“There is not a whole lot of love lost when they (Washington and Mt. Pleasant) play,” he said. “Mid-Prairie is a county rival. Then, there is Fairfield. Those are our three biggest rivals in order.”
Mid-Prairie is the school the Demons open against on the road, in the first football game of the season, Aug. 30.