By ALEX JIMENEZ
After being appointed as Pima Community College’s golf coach early 2020, Marcus Smith became NJCAA’s youngest head coach.
Although it was a big accomplishment, the only surprise for him was how soon this opportunity came.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be a coach … I did not know I’d do it this young, though,” said Pima Community College golf coach Smith, age 21.
Smith started off his head coaching career before most would even consider helping out as an assistant coach or taking coaching courses. However, he did not begin golfing as early as you may expect.
“I started golf pretty late in comparison to our athletes here,” Smith said. “I started when I was about a freshman or sophomore in high school. It was all because my brother, my friends and their brothers made it look cool … and I wasn’t half-bad. So I joined the high school team sophomore year.”
The decision to join the Deer Valley High School golf team was a pivotal moment in Smith’s career, as this was when he met his coach Alan Ferguson.
Smith brought an immediate impact to the team and was a leader among the group.
“Marcus was always there for the others,” Ferguson said. “Even though he was new, we had some younger guys on the team and they all looked up to him. He was there to get better but to help others get better, too.”
Ferguson played a fundamental part in Smith’s journey to become a coach.
“That was the guy that showed me how to play good golf and really how to coach,” Smith said. “Little did I know, he was teaching me how to coach for my future career.”
Along with coach Ferguson, Smith was following another elite coach.
“My family has strong roots at the University of Alabama, and coach Nick Saban is a guy I’ve been looking up to since I was tiny,” he said. “That’s one of the greatest coaches we have in the world today, so at a young age I really learned what a coach’s role on a team is. I got to watch the greatest coach coach every Saturday and still do. I knew I wanted to help the youth get from point A to point B.”
Upon graduating high school, Smith decided to put down the golf clubs and stick to school full time at the University of Arizona, where Smith still attends today.
While in Tucson, the opportunity to help as an assistant coach over two summers at Deer Valley with coach Ferguson arose, providing Smith his first real coaching experience.
The next chance for Smith was an unexpected one. He would help as an assistant coach for Tucson High School’s basketball team with coach Richard Langford.
“They really gave me my first introduction to coaching,” Smith said. “I understood resources and who you met, who you knew was almost more important than what you know.”
Smith then was given the opportunity to be an assistant coach for Pima’s golf team in January 2020, right before the COVID-19 shutdown.
When the sports season was going to resume after the lockdown, Smith received a call from Pima Athletic Director Jim Monaco notifying him the head coach for the golf team would not be continuing.
Smith thought that would be the end of his time with Pima. Little did he know, it was just beginning.
“Right then and there he offered me the job,” Smith said. “He felt the program wasn’t being run properly, and he had faith I could do it.”
Monaco knew the direction he wanted to take the program, and it involved Smith.
“Everyone loves him,” Monaco said. “He does whatever he needs to do to get the job done. We’re excited to build a program with Marcus at the helm.”
Along with being the youngest coach in the NJCAA, Smith teamed up with Barnes and Noble to publish his book “Dream Big, Live Larger” (Barnes & Noble Press, $7).
“I’ve always wanted to write a book of something but never knew what to write about,” Smith said. “I got the job at Pima, and there it is. I’m going to write about the process from junior year in high school to becoming the youngest collegiate coach in the NJCAA.
The 2020-2021 season saw Pima send Victoria Peña and Connor Wierman to represent the Pima men’s and women’s program at the NJCAA DI National Championship.
With Smith’s first recruiting class coming in this year, he hopes for just as much, if not more, success this season.
“We intend to send both programs back to the national championship and win both this year,” he said.