The Valley Center football program had 17 wins in the 12 years before Caleb Smith arrived in 2013.
Four seasons later, the Hornets were playing in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A playoffs. The town hadn’t experienced winning on Friday nights in the fall since Caleb’s father, Mike Smith, was on the sidelines from 1993-01.
On Monday, Smith decided to resign as Valley Center’s football coach after five seasons and back-to-back winning seasons. At age 31, why did he leave a program he had restored?
“It was strictly a family decision,” Smith said Tuesday morning. “My administration was willing to let me continue to do both (football coach and athletic director), but the time commitment to do both was taxing on my family. This was the best decision for my family, so I can make sure I’m around a little bit more.”
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Smith and his wife, Kenzie, have two children under the age of 3 at home. He will remain the athletic director at Valley Center, as well as an assistant principal.
Coaching is obviously in his blood and the decision to leave it behind was “the hardest decision of my life,” according to Smith, who was 21-25 at Valley Center, including a 9-2 record in 2016 and a 5-4 record this season.
“It was a decision I was going back and forth on for the last few weeks on what to do,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, I wanted to put my faith in my family and make them the priority in my life. That wasn’t possible before with the amount of hours I had to put in to handle two jobs normally one person doesn’t do on their own.”
Smith said he was proud of what he accomplished at the school, and gave credit to his current and former coaches and players.
“I think I did a great job of surrounding myself with great people and I just provided the vision,” Smith said. “The people who bought into that vision were the ones who helped turn the program around. I’m proud of our entire coaching staff for what we’ve done to get back to a winning tradition. I think we’ll continue with that. There’s a lot of good things to look forward to in this program.”