One of the top names in Oklahoma high school girls basketball coaching circles is heading to one of the state’s most tradition-rich programs.
Eric Smith has accepted the girls basketball position at Dale. He made the decision earlier this week and informed his Frontier team early Friday morning.
He succeeds Josh Forysthe, who stepped down following the 2018 campaign.
Smith spent the last three seasons at Frontier and coached that program to a 78-13 record and to the Class A state tournament each year.
The Lady Mustangs were 30-2 and the Class A runners-up to Seiling in 2018 and return the entire roster next year.
“This wasn’t an easy decision,” Smith said. “I really appreciate the opportunity coach (Bob) Weckstein provided me when he hired me at Frontier. It’s been a really good three years and I know the future is bright.
“I really hope these girls go win Class A next year.”
But, said Smith, the opportunity for him to move closer to his family was something he couldn’t turn down.
“I’m getting closer to my parents and right now that’s really important to me,” he said. “And we can still remain fairly close to my wife’s parents, too.
“The fact that Dale has such a huge basketball tradition makes it a win-win for us.”
Smith is no stranger to making the tough decision of leaving a talented team behind.
He left Alva following a successful 10-year stint after his 2014 and 2015 squads won state championships.
Those teams were led by Jaden Hobbs, who had one of the most prolific state tournament careers in Oklahoma high school history.
Hobbs led Alva to another state championship the year after Smith’s departure.
Dale has been to the state tournament 31 times, has 41 state tournament wins (fourth all-time) and owns seven state championships (tied for fourth all-time).
The most recent was in 2010 when Forsythe was an assistant to Benny Burnett.
Forsythe took over the program early the next season after Burnett resigned.
He coached the Lady Pirates to four state tournaments, including three in a row from 2015-17. His team was the 2A runner-up in 2017.
Dale finished 26-5 in 2018 and lost to Luther in the area consolation semifinals.
“I just look forward to getting to Dale and doing my best to help carry on their tradition,” Smith said.
Smith led Alva to four state tournaments in all, including a runner-up finish in 2013.
Prior to his tenure at Alva, Smith coached one year each at Lomega and Dover, coaching the boys programs at both schools.