TAMPA, Fla. – Outfielder Stephen Smith seems to have finally found the right fit for himself.
A former Virginia Military Institute and Santa Fe College student-athlete, Smith now plays for one of the nation’s top NCAA Division II programs, the University of Tampa.
Smith first made a name for himself at Trenton High School, in Trenton, Fla., where he not only won the 2013 Florida State Championship in both baseball and football, he won them alongside his brothers.
“It was pretty cool, to come from a small town (Trenton), and be able to put a name to the it and the sport’s program,” said Smith, before batting practice on Wednesday. “I had the opportunity to play with all three of my brothers (Caleb, Jonathan and Michael), so that was really neat to play with all of them.
“Winning the (state) championship with two of the three (Jonathan and Michael), just made it even better.”
Smith’s father, Shannon, who he has great admiration for, was once part of the military as a Field Artillery Officer in the U.S. Army. This played a factor in Smith attending the Virginia Military Institute in 2014.
“I knew I wanted to go military, baseball, and college so I decided to go there (VMI). I learned a lot through my first year,” said Smith. “I learned a lot of baseball, a lot of military, and a lot about myself up there, and just developed as a man.”
To further develop his baseball skills the former Keydet then attended Santa Fe Junior College from 2015-17. He had a .359 average, hit eight home runs, drove in 73 runs, and stole 33 bases over his two-year tenure.
He also won a state championship in 2016 and conference championship in 2017.
During his sophomore year at Santa Fe, Smith visited the University of Tampa. He met with four-time national championship coach, Joe Urso, who had nothing but praise for the former Saint.
“He was one of our favourites, because he’s just electric, he brings a lot to the table,” said Coach Urso. “He can really run, steal a base, he can lay down a bunt any time he wants, for a little guy he actually has surprising power.”
The 5 foot-10, 175 pounder, who had become accustomed to success in baseball, was drawn to the Spartans’ program because of their winning tradition as well as their honesty.
“They showed me everything, but everything they told me they weren’t lying about, they do a real good job here of recruiting. I feel they do the best job at not lying about what they have.”