Smith follows family lineage
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Bryson Smith throws the shot put during one of the few meets he got to participate in before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. Smith signed a National Letter of Intent to San Jose State University last month.
Bryson Smith had some big shoes to fill growing up.
Not only were his dad and uncle — Allen and Alex Smith — Madera Athletic Hall of Famers, but his sister earned Valley Championship honors and earned an appointment to the Air Force Academy.
“Their success definitely pushed me,” Bryson said. “Knowing that they were a hard act to follow was tough. Addyson had a 4.4 or something crazy like that. My dad and uncle got scholarships for football and track. My cousin went Div. 1 to UC Riverside. It felt like I had to outdo somebody.”
However, Bryson has stepped into the Smith shoes nicely after signing his National Letter of Intent for track and field at San Jose State University last month.
“It was a great feeling,” he said. “I was able to sign with my sister home so it was cool and to able to keep it going with my family. It was a big thing to have her there. She was someone I looked up to in the process of getting to where I wanted to be with schools.”
In a family of athletes, Smith has one thing that his dad and uncle, along with his sister never accomplished — a four-sport letterwinner. Smith has earned 11 letters in his four-year Madera Coyotes career — two in football, two in basketball, three in volleyball and four in track. He threw in track while also playing on the boys volleyball team.
“Coach (Rhonda) Jefferson was cool about it with volleyball,” he said. “I would leave practice about 30 minutes early to go out to track so I can practice with daylight. I would mainly throw with my dad and sometimes my coaches would stay after.”
Also, Smith still has his senior year, hopefully, to participate in.
“It’s hard to have a senior year,” Smith said. “It’s not what I expected it to be. I’m going to make the most out of it. I am hoping to play volleyball and track the most. I didn’t get those seasons last year. I feel like I got jipped on them. I could definitely see track getting going. Hopefully, volleyball will get going. There are a lot of places that have started volleyball and working towards getting some stuff done.”
Smith’s father and uncle starred at Madera before going to Merced College and earning All-Conference honors at Southeast Missouri State University.
“It’s a good feeling knowing they went through the same path and they went through what I went through,” Bryson said. “ I want to be better than them at this point.
“It showed the work ethic and what I needed to get into that spot. Just seeing how their time and my sister’s time was in track made me want it more.”
Smith’s choices were between San Jose State and Cal Poly Pomona. He chose San Jose because of the location and the coaches.
“The location was one of the reasons,” he said. “It’s a new experience. I liked the coach and I liked the team and the school. It seemed like a great option for me.”
Smith got in touch with the San Jose State coach during quarantine last year and it took off from there.
“I reached out to the coach and started talking to them,” he said. “Over the summer, I joined a hammer throwing club. The coach started giving me more interest. It was early November when she gave me my offer.
“The summer was really stressful figuring out where I wanted to be. When I finally figured it out and signed that letter of intent, it felt like a lot of stress taken off.”
He is anticipating throwing the shot put, discus and hammer for the Spartans. The Spartans are in the same conference as sister Addyson’s Air Force Academy, but Addyson is a senior this season.
“In discus and hammer, it helps being tall with length and levers,” he said. “My biggest thing going into next year is I want to be close to 225-230 pounds.”
Smith carries a 3.6 grade point average at MHS. He hasn’t decided on a major, but is leaning towards liberal arts to become a teacher or a coach.
One of the best advice Addyson gave Bryson was to concentrate more on school.
“Addyson told me to stay focused in school and not let little things bother me,” he said. “She knew it was going to be a struggle to get marks and get stronger while balancing school. She told me to concentrate on school.”
Smith has been working out by himself during this stay-at-home order. Usually, he would be with the Coyotes’ boys basketball team preparing for the County/Metro Athletic Conference season.
“I’m been working out and hanging out,” he said. “It’s been more challenging mentally than physically because you are pushing yourself through everything without a team. Getting up to work out by yourself is harder. At the end of the day, I’m going to push myself to where I need to be. There’s a bigger goal.”
With or without a senior season, Smith is ready to head to the next level.
“I’m anticipating going to college more than a senior season,” he said. “I feel like going to college and being there will be a different feeling. I still wouldn’t mind having a senior season.
“It definitely sucks not having a senior night. Being a part of all those sports for four years is tough. We trained a lot for football and volleyball and to not have that recognition kind of sucks.”
In the end, though, Smith just wants to compete.
“I’m just looking forward to competing and making the most out of it,” he said.