By T. Anthony BellSeptember 26, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 26, 2013) -- Sgt. Kimberly Smith has a vision -- one in which she showcases the full range of her hoop skills, becomes more of a leader and generates enough passion on the floor that it becomes infectious.
And win a gold medal.
"No more silver medals," said the Special Troops Battalion Soldier in reference to the upcoming All Army Basketball Trial Camp. "I'm still feeling some displeasure about that."
The trial camp is scheduled for Oct. 14 - Nov. 6 at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. After roster selections are made, the All Army team takes aim at the Armed Forces Women's Basketball Tournament slated for Nov. 7-15 at Great Lakes, Ill.
A shoo-in to make the All Army roster because she is one of only four or five returning players, Smith's ambitions for gold come from figuratively wearing the 'tourney runners-up' moniker the past two years. The former collegiate player said her trophy case is in need of a makeover, and she intends to accomplish it through a list of goals and expectations she has set for herself:
"I want to be a consistent leader," she said, "not just talk the talk off the floor, but put in the work on the floor. I also want to bring the younger girls along; push the veterans; and encourage teamwork."
The 5-foot-11-inch, 160-pound Smith clearly has leadership aspirations in mind for this year's camp.
And she should. The Jacksonville, Fla., native won a spot on the All Army roster as a private first class in 2011 and again the following year as a specialist. Further, she was named each year to the All Armed Forces Team.
Now, as a 29-year-old noncommissioned officer, she is seasoned, near her peak, and is poised to make additions to her list of accomplishments, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Marvin Michael.
"I think she's in a situation similar to Serena Williams, the tennis player," said the Soldier who has intermittently coached Smith the past four years. "She realizes that she is getting older, and this opportunity may not be there again, so she wants to take advantage of her time."
Four years ago, Michael said he spotted Smith and another Soldier in the gym while they were still in quartermaster advanced individual training. Upon seeing them play, he declared, "I've got to have them on my team." He has seen her court skills and persona change dramatically since them.
"Smith's game has really, really progressed," he said. "She has improved her follow-through, ability to go to the hoop strongly and get to the line, her ability to keep her composure and her ability to lead. She is a true leader on the court."
Smith emphasized the leadership traits Smith has acquired and the maturity she has gained, especially in consideration of her past tendencies to get frustrated and impatient.
"The things that used to bother her on the court no longer bother her," said Michael.
Smith also has made herself more versatile offensively. She is accustomed to playing the small forward, forward and center positions but has broadened her game to the extent that she can be slotted in the shooting guard position as well.
"Honestly speaking, I can compare her to a Candace Parker (of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks)," said Michael of Smith's flexibility. "She is not a true point guard. Neither is Parker, but she is a leader like her and can play the game just as well."
The 6-foot-4-inch Parker is well-known for her prowess at every position on the floor. She averaged 17.2 points, 2.1 blocks, 3.2 assists and 9.3 rebounds a game this season.
Smith said her game more closely resembles that of Tamika Catchings, another versatile WNBA player, and that her enhanced offensive repertoire is the result of a grueling training regimen.
"I have worked so hard," she said, "especially on my midrange shot. A lot of people don't work on that, but it's one part of my game I wanted to improve."
Not much of Smith's on-the-court skills can be bettered, said Michael. The only room for improvement, he commented, has to do with an intangible -- belief in her abilities.
"Just her self-confidence," he said, "confidence in knowing 'I am a leader, that I can take a game over and I can get us this victory.'"
Michael seemed to indicate that Smith is at the crossroads of better-than-average and exceptional. Smith didn't seem to have any shortage of confidence and projected a high measure of self-assurance, even a bit of swagger. Enough so that she has already constructed the ideal, signature camp scenario in which the Army team wins the gold medal.
"I hope to secure a spot on the All Armed Forces Team, make it better, provide a good experience to make the younger players want to come back, make the country proud, represent my family and make the Army proud."
Only time will tell whether Smith's vision becomes reality.