Family, athletes come first for Smith

Patrick Kurish of profiles Todd Smith, Head Strenght and Conditioning Coach of Marquette University.

"Punch, punch, punch, four sets of four!" roars Todd Smith at a couple of women's soccer players. "Get it done!"

Some would assume Smith's tone is a result of the blaring music in the university's workout facility, but such is not the case. To Smith, motivation has always been a key part of his life. Naturally, it has carried over to his job as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Marquette University. His job is to motivate student athletes.

"As a kid, I was going to be a doctor," Smith said very emphatically. "But I didn't want to work on people; I wanted to work with people. So then I was going to be a physical therapist, but I did not want to deal with people who weren't motivated. Being a former athlete with a scientific background, this was just a natural fit for me."

Growing up in Hamilton, Ohio, a small town 25 miles north of Cincinnati, Smith was a total athlete. In high school, he participated on multiple athletic teams, and during his college years, he played football at Division II University of Findlay, in Findlay, Ohio.

Smith cites these as his most memorable and noteworthy childhood memories.

"I can't pick out just one [memory]. They would have to be my successes and failures being an athlete, playing a bunch of different sports in high school, and even playing football in college" remembers Smith. "All of the different coaches and athletes I have worked with from the high school level to the professional level have all had lasting effects. They have all help shape who I am."

Even since childhood, Smith attests that his father, his mother, and his high school football coaches were his biggest heroes.

"Really, I think you coach as you have been coached, and my mother and father were a big part of that," Smith said, in the now quiet and now empty weight room. "My high school football coach, he is the person who, I don't want to say pushed me into this kind of stuff, but you definitely see a lot of him in what I do, as far as being with people."

Not surprisingly, given his extensive athletic background and desire to help and motivate people, Smith decided to play a role helping and motivating student athletes who shared his childhood lifestyle.

After two years at the University of Findlay, Smith stopped playing football and transferred to nearby Miami University, where he received his Bachelor Degree in exercise science. Immediately following, he attended graduate school at the University of North Dakota.

While at UND, Smith gained contacts that landed him his very first professional job at the University of Pacific as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning coach.

After two years as an assistant at Pacific, Smith took a strength and conditioning position at San Jose State. However, after only one football season at SJSU, Smith returned to Pacific where he was offered the head training position, the Director of Athletic Performance.

In 2006, Smith and his wife, Maggie, were expecting their firstborn son, Cooper. In lieu of the occasion, the Smith's searched and received jobs in their native Midwest, landing them in Milwaukee, Wis., and for Todd, Marquette University.

Smith believes and views his current position at MU as "the ideal situation."

"I always wanted to deal with big-time basketball, simply because I have been to the NCAA tournament with [Pacific] a couple of times, which is why I aspired to be at a bigger program," explained Smith. "I love football and will always love football, but I've been to the Rose Bowl and all these different bowl games, but there is nothing like the atmosphere of the NCAA Tournament.; it is electric. Anybody can beat anybody."

However, holding such a position at such a competitive Division I school requires long hours of work.

"Typically, I wake up, get to work between 6 and 7 a.m. everyday, and we will get athletes until between 11 a.m. and noon," said Smith. "After that, I'll go get something to eat, come back and we will have Basketball in here from 1 p.m. until about 6 or 7 p.m. Then I go home and play with my son and eat dinner with my family and wake up and do it all again the next day"

Despite his hard work and dedication towards his job, being the Head Strength and Conditioning coach at Marquette University is not Smith's number one priority.

"Family always comes first," he says with almost no hesitation. "Every free moment I'm not here I'm with them. My number one goal is to be the best father and husband I can be. I mean a big part of why we moved back here was family. So, yeah, I am definitely a family first guy."

But as far as his career goes, Smith finds his biggest joys seeing his athletes succeed after their time with him in college.

"I love seeing what the student athletes are doing after they are done playing," said Smith with a grin on his face. "I still keep in contact with a few of the student athletes I had at [the University of] Pacific and at the University of North Dakota. It is kind of fun to seeing how they have been successful."

Smith continued, "At North Dakota, we won two National Championships in both Men's Hockey and Women's Basketball, and not to mention countless conference championships. We've had All-Americans, but I really don't look at it that way. I look to see what they are doing after their four years here, wherever that may be."

Todd Smith claims his colleagues view him as "an honest, hardworking man." He also finds fault that he perhaps cares too much.

"I care to the point where it bothers me when people don't care as much as I do," admits Smith.

Nevertheless, Smith is a man who genuinely cares about the successes of his student athletes both while they are in school, and after they leave. He is a man who has spent an entire life in training in order to fill the role of a demanding job, and he would like it no other way.

"I couldn't see myself doing anything else," Smith stated proudly. "I was meant for this job." And this job was meant for him.

Patrick Kurish is a sophomore majoring in journalism.

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