Coach Smalley returns to Bridge City
Last updated 12/19/2023 at 8:54am
Bridge City native Josh Smalley is going home. Smalley has been chosen as the new athletic director and head football coach at Bridge City High School.
Superintendent Dr. Mike Kelly submitted Smalley as the candidate to fill the two positions of athletic director and head football coach at a meeting of the Bridge City school board on Wednesday, December 13. The school trustees unanimously approved the superintendent's recommendation.
Dr. Kelly said he and the school trustees were looking for a good, solid, genuine person and somebody that they would want their kids to be around. Kelly and the school board were hoping to find someone who would stay in Bridge City for more than just a couple of years to give the athletic program some consistency.
The superintendent indicated Smalley was given an administration position contract which all run for two years, but Dr. Kelly is optimistic the working relationship between Bridge City and Coach Smalley will be much longer. "The main thing I wanted was somebody that could look at a sixth grader in the face and say son when you are a senior here at Bridge City High School I'm going to be your football coach. That's the level of consistency and devotion we need for this program," Dr. Kelly explained.
Smalley played multiple sports as a student at Bridge City High School. Later he served a couple of stints as an assistant coach in Bridge City.
The last twelve years for Coach Smalley have been spent as the athletic director and head football coach at Orangefield High School. Those dozen seasons have made Smalley the winningest football coach in that school's history.
The decision to leave Orangefield was not an easy one for the coach. Smalley stated during his twenty-eight years in education leaving Orangefield was the hardest decision he has ever had to make.
"I love that community, I love those kids, I love that school district. They took a chance on me twelve years ago to give me a shot to run a program, and I'm forever grateful and forever in their debt," Smalley acknowledged.
Saying good bye to his Bobcat athletes was really difficult. Smalley confessed, "To have to look those kids in the eyes and tell them that I was leaving and where I was going that's a difficult conversation to have when you truly love and care about people. Just because you change logos and colors doesn't mean you stop loving and caring about kids. That will be forever."
The opportunity to coach again at his alma mater was too tempting. "It just seemed like the right time. Bridge City gave so much to me as a young man not only as a student and a player but also I've coached here a couple times. I just really feel the drive and the need to come back to give back and give my thanks to this school district and this community," Smalley admitted.
The move is an exciting one for Josh who quoted a line form the school song about memories made at Bridge City. "Those memories I made as a young man going through Sims Elementary or Bridge City Junior High or Bridge City High School or being on a team that competed for the state championship in baseball or playing basketball in Don S. Lewis Gym. It's those memories, those educators, and those coaches that I recall from those years that made me want to come back," Smalley recalled.
The official starting date for Josh Smalley as the athletic director and head football coach is January 8, 2024. Coach Smalley is not waiting until then to become acquainted with his coaching staff and his student athletes. Smalley spent the day on the Thursday after being hired meeting with coaches and players at Bridge City High School which he said went fantastic.
Smalley is optimistic as he takes over the Bridge City football program that it already began moving in the right direction under Coach Chad Landry this past season. Smalley praised, "I would be remiss if I didn't give Chad and the staff the credit due which they deserve for what they did last season. I talked to the players and told the seniors I respect what they did in a tough situation with the timing of everything and they handled everything about as well as they could handle it."
Coming from Orangefield where the Slot-T was its offense the last several seasons does not necessarily mean Bridge City will switch to it under Smalley. "I don't plan on running the Slot-T here. After playing the Cardinals last year and seeing what they've got coming back with a quarterback that can throw, some good running backs, and solid linemen I think we'll have the ability to do some different things similar to what they've been doing," Smalley analyzed.
"At the end of the day it's going to be what does our talent base dictate that we can do and let's get good at doing that. I get labeled as a Slot-T guy because that's what I've done for twelve years, but people don't remember when I played at Bridge City we were multiple. I've coached in the Spread and have coached in just about any offense you can think of, so my knowledge base is not just Slot-T football," Smalley added.
In addition to being the head football coach, Smalley is the athletic director for all of the sports at Bridge City. He observed, "Bridge City has a good foundation for other sports. Volleyball goes three or four rounds deep every year, softball is very productive, baseball's always winning, and then basketball seems to be doing really good this year. I met with the soccer coach and they have had some success in what they've done. Girls track is real successful."
Smalley assessed his job as athletic director should be to come in and support those coaches in their programs to be more successful. He hopes to work with the programs that are not already in the playoffs regularly to figure out a way to make them better than they currently are.
Josh Smalley believes the number one thing he brings to Bridge City is stability. "There's been a kind of revolving door around here with head coaches and athletic directors. I'm not going anywhere. This is where I'm from, this is where I live, my grand kids are in this area, my mom lives in this area. I told the kids this job is not a stepping stone for another job or a bridge to the next big thing. To me this is the big thing. This is where I'm going to be. This is where I plan on ending my career whenever that is. I started it here as a graduate assistant in 1995 and I'm going to end here whenever that time comes," Smalley concluded.