News 25 Student Athlete of the Week: Gulfport’s Kate Smith
Gulfport’s Kate Smith has been recognized numerous times as a part of the Lady Admirals soccer program and she still has a whole senior season ahead of her.
Nine months after scoring the game winning goal in the 2021 6A State Championship game, Gulfport forward Kate Smith is back on the pitch. This time with her name inked on a national letter of intent to play division I soccer at Ole Miss. “Basically everyone in my family has gone to Ole Miss, so if I didn’t go there, it would be a problem. Hotty toddy! So, it’s just been like a second home to me and now that I get to go there and actually play soccer is pretty amazing.”
Smith credits her family as the root of her competitive nature. Growing up as the middle child, Smith, her older sister Bailey, and younger brother Michael, constantly put their athletic capabilities to the test. “At midnight we would go out into the middle of the road and have a race to see who’s the fastest in the family that week. And I actually never won that race. It was always my brother or my sister. But I just think having them there, that competitive spirit and them always wanting to work hard with me has helped me a lot.”
Smith may not win races running in the streets, however, the budding track star qualified for state in three events and came in third in the 4 by 400 relay her first season with the team.
Despite a junior campaign in which Smith was named 2021 Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year, it didn’t come without some struggles. Smith says that she dealt with low self-confidence that led to a 1-month slump. However, she found ways to get out of it. “I really had to work out of that whether it was just finding these bible studies at night where they were basically like ‘you got this’ things. And talking to Coach Pryor and basically doing extra practices every week to just build back up that confidence. I think just all of that helped me out of that struggle.”
Overcoming that struggle catapulted Smith into the rest of her junior season, helping the Lady Admirals to a 22-1-2 record and a second straight 6A state championship finishing with 35 goals and 17 assists.
With back-to-back state titles and a Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year honor under her belt, as well as a spot in Oxford already waiting for her, it begs the question: what’s left on her list to do? “I guess just playing for the glory of God and wanting to win another state championship with my team is just what I’m most looking forward to this year and I think that just in itself is going to be the biggest part of my year.”
Trophies, honors, and college ball aside, Smith is ready for one last ride playing the game she loves with the people that she loves.
Smith and the undefeated Lady Admirals are back in action Friday as they host Clinton at 5:30.
To nominate someone you believe deserves to be featured as News 25’s Student Athlete of the Week, please reach out to Grace Boyles through email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook (@GraceBBoyles), and Twitter (@GraceBBoyles).
Nominees can participate in any sport and be any age. Make sure to tune in every Wednesday to see which local athlete we spotlight next.