FORT MILL --
Nation Ford High has named two new coaches to lead the girls’ basketball and baseball teams.
With the resignation of girls’ basketball coach Frank Snider last month to take the head football coaching job at Maiden High School in North Carolina, the opening for a new coach was one that was expected to be filled quickly. Nation Ford hired former Presbyterian College assistant coach Mike Smith for the position.
On the other hand, an unexpected resignation came from head baseball coach Dell Corley, who stepped down after five years at the helm.
Nation Ford had about 25 applicants for the basketball job and interviewed four candidates. Athletic Director Brian Turner said Smith’s experience helped when it came time to make a decision.
“There was mutual interest,” Turner said. “They (Smith and his family) wanted to get back to the area. It’s a good thing on our part and his part.”
Smith comes to Nation Ford after serving mostly as an assistant at Presbyterian College for the past 10 years, where he has helped coach both the men’s and women’s programs. Smith helped with the men’s team from 2002-2004 and then switched sidelines helping with the women’s program from 2004-2007 and again from 2009-2012. He also coached women’s lacrosse for Presbyterian College during the 2007-2008 season.
He has also been serving as Senior Associate Athletic Director for the school over the past five years in helping it transition from a Division II to Division I program.
However, his heart has always been on the sidelines.
“I jumped at the job,” Smith said. “I wanted to coach, but I got into more of an administrative role in the athletic department [with Presbyterian].”
Smith graduated from Presbyterian College in 1982 and has a master’s degree from Webster University. He was a four-year letterman for the Blue Hose on the basketball court.
Smith also is retired from the U.S. Army having served over 23 years in the military.
The coaching job at Nation Ford also gives Smith an opportunity to come back home to York County. He is a native of Clover and his wife, Lynn, is from Rock Hill.
“All of our family is still up there,” Smith said.
Smith has already gotten to know the Lady Falcons some as he guided them through their summer basketball camp ironically at – Presbyterian College.
“Basketball has been my thing,” he said. “I have been coaching young people all my life. I am still trying to get to know everybody. I am real impressed with the ladies and what I have seen so far. I would like to thank [assistant coach] Mike Ross for filling the void between coach Snider leaving and me coming on board and I would like to thank coach [Brian] Turner and ([Principal] Beverley Bowman for the opportunity.”
Baseball vacancy a surprise
On the baseball diamond, former assistant baseball coach Michael Matkovich was tapped to replace Corley as head coach.
Corley has served as head baseball coach since the school opened in 2007 and will continue to serve as a teacher and assistant football coach at the school.
The baseball team made the playoffs three of the five years he served as head coach, and the team was a District finalist last season, finishing 16-12.
“It was a decision everybody came to after the season ended,” Turner said. “We supported his decision and his time of service.”
Corley didn’t have a comment about stepping down, other than sharing the statement that he gave to the administration regarding his resignation.
“After much thought and prayer with my family, it is with a heavy heart that I resign as the head baseball coach at Nation Ford High School,” he said, in the statement.
“I appreciate and value the opportunity that I was given to serve as head baseball coach at Nation Ford. It has always been my goal for my athletes to reach the highest possible level of performance as athletes and to reach their fullest potential as young men. I remain unwavering in that purpose for my program and players. For a variety of reasons this has not happened and for that choose to step away.”
Matkovich most recently served this past year as head boys’ golf coach for Nation Ford, and the team won the Region IV title and finished fifth in the state.
A native of West Virginia, Matkovich has been serving in several capacities at the school, including assistant football coach.
Matkovich served as an assistant under Corley from 2007-2009. Before coming to Nation Ford, he worked at Waddell High School in Charlotte from 2002-2005, coaching baseball under former Lewisville baseball coach and current Lancaster football coach Bennie McMurray. He was the head baseball coach for the 2006-2007 school year and came to Nation Ford after that.
Matkovich graduated from West Liberty University in West Virginia and also has Masters degrees from Winthrop University and Western Governors University.
When Turner told Matkovich about the job once it came open, Matkovich didn’t jump at it at first.
“I didn’t take it immediately,” he said. “I had to talk to my family about it. The golf team was really successful last year and I wasn’t sure about leaving it.”
Turner said the school always tries to look in-house for the best candidates and didn’t have to look far to find Matkovich.
“He clearly jumped off the table at us,” Turner said. “We felt very comfortable promoting him from within. He is established within the school and the kids respond well to him.”