Love of coaching leads Smithpeters to 100-win milestone
John A. Logan College (JALC) bet on youth when it hired Kyle Smithpeters to be its head men's basketball coach close to five years ago.
In response, Smithpeters has kept a high level of success for the program, including a recent milestone.
In mid-January, Smithpeters — who took over as head coach in 2012 when he was 29 — earned his 100th win in charge of the Volunteers program.
“I am very fortunate to have started this opportunity to coach basketball as a head coach at JALC at such a young age,” Smithpeters told the Southeast Illinois News in an email interview.
According to JALC's athletic website, Smithpeters had winning records each of his first four seasons there, including a 27-7 mark in 2014-15 and 24-8 last season. As of Feb. 4, the Volunteers had a 17-5 record this season.
It has been a successful journey for Smithpeters, who had a different career path in mind.
When he entered college, he said he planned to to be a chiropractor. However, by the time he was a sophomore, coaching became his goal.
“I really enjoy the kids,” he said. “I am a competitor and enjoy competing, but it makes me feel so good to see these kids be successful after the game of basketball. I love having past players come back and visit with their families and see how well they are doing.”
Coaching was part of his life well before he became one. His father, Randy, has been the head boys' basketball coach at Harrisburg High School since Smithpeters was young, according to jalc.edu. Smithpeters said he remembered going to practice when he was 4 or 5 years old with his dad.
“My father was a big influence to me as well,” Smithpeters said. “He never pushed me into the game of basketball, but would always try and educate me about the game for as long as I could remember.”
Smithpeters played basketball at Southeastern Illinois College (SIC) and then at Southern Illinois in Carbondale (SIU), according to his JALC.edu biography. After graduating from SIU, he became an assistant at SIC for a year before moving on to JALC as an assistant for four years. From there, Smithpeters went to Missouri State, an NCAA Division I school, to be an assistant.
After one year there, JALC came calling when Head Coach Mark Imhoff retired.
“I really enjoyed the (Division I) level of coaching, but the very next year coach Imhoff decided to retire early and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity at the age of 29 to be a head coach in college basketball at a school I felt so deeply about,” Smithpeters said.
Moving from Division I to a junior college tests a coach's resourcefulness, he said, since there are fewer assistant coaches and staff members. It has been part of the learning process that he said continues.
“A lot changes when you slide down the bench 18 inches into the head-coaching chair,” Smithpeters said. “The experience of being able to run my own program the way I feel a program should be ran is invaluable.”