Smith named Thunder football head coach

Smith
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College announced today that Robert Smith has been hired as head coach of the Thunder football team. He began his appointment in early April.

Smith served as Thunder defensive coordinator/assistant head coach during the 2018 season. He takes over the program from former co-head coach Davin Depoe, who led the Thunder to a 3-6 record and a conference playoff berth last season.

Prior to becoming head coach of the Thunder, Smith started his coaching career while still in high school in Arcadia, Florida, and worked his way up the ranks through high school and college to his current position with the Thunder. He served in various assistant coach roles at DeSoto High School in Arcadia, Florida; at Capital High School in Olympia, Washington; and at Bishop Ireton High in Alexandria, Virginia. He was offensive coordinator/assistant coach at Vermilion Community College in Ely, Minnesota, prior to joining the Thunder Football staff for the 2018 season.

“I’m looking forward to developing and coaching our student athletes as persons, rather than focusing on just the athlete portion of playing intercollegiate sports,” said Smith. “Developing good personal habits like studying effectively, time and financial management skills, building positive relationships, and creating a plan for our players’ futures will be important to our Thunder program.”

Smith admits he is an offensive-minded coach, typically using a simple-to-learn system but with advanced schemes that feature the strengths of players on the roster.

“I like to dictate the tempo of games with offense,” said Smith. “Our players will learn a solid foundation of our game plan, but they will need to read defenses quickly and adjust on the fly when at the line of scrimmage. We’ll be balanced between run and pass, and we’ll be ready to take advantages when we see them on the field.”

Smith has already been working the recruiting component of being a college head coach, aiming for a well-rounded roster of one-way position players for the 2019 season. He also has been overseeing the off-season workout program with the returning Thunder players and is lining up assistant coaches and program staff.

“Any time you have the opportunity to be a head coach at the college level, it’s a blessing,” said Smith. “It’s even better to coach at a school like Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College where employees truly care about the student athletes. After being here for a season as an assistant coach and meeting with the administration, I can see that our visions for student success align.”

Smith also has experience playing college football. He was a starting running back at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, earning academic all-conference honors and a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication.

Smith, who resides in Cloquet, is also the head coach of the Thunder women’s basketball team.