We all have people we’ve looked up to for inspiration. It may be a parent, teacher, or perhaps, a public figure. Those of us who grew up loving sports have certainly looked at various athletes as heroes. Laney Smith didn’t have to look very far to find a person to emulate. She found someone playing on the very court where her own success would come later.
Scoring 1,000 points over the course of a high school basketball career is major accomplishment and a large measure of individual success. Up until now, only one female basketball player in Jefferson R7 history, Mackenzie Null, had reached the mark, a fact that Laney Smith drew inspiration from. “I’ve been wanting to join Mackenzie Null in the 1,000-point club since 7th grade.”
On Thursday, February 4th, Smith finally got her wish, although she doesn’t remember much about the basket that put her over the threshold. “ I honestly don’t even remember the play that led to it, I just remember looking over at the bench at my teammates and coaches afterwards. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget. I knew I was close, but I had no idea how close I was until I got to the gym that night.” (For the record, it was a layup after a turnover and quick outlet pass in transition.)
For many years, Smith has worked tirelessly in the gym, honing her craft. Now a senior, she is reaping the benefits of all her efforts, one of which is achieving her 6-year-old goal. “Getting to 1,000 points means the world to me for a couple reasons. The first is that all of the practices, tournaments, and long drives finally paid off. The second is that several of the most important people in my life got to be there and experience it with me.”
Laney knows she never could have reached her goal without the support of those around her. Her thanks go out to, “my parents for supporting me, washing my jerseys, keeping me fed, and driving back and forth to watch me play no matter how busy they are. Second, Coach Dreyer and Mrs. Wilkey for stepping up and making sure we were all taken care of last year (during an unexpected coaching change). And finally, Coach Holdinghausen, who has spent countless hours making me better as a player and as a person. From rebounding for me after practice to being there for me through everything over the past 5 years.”
Smith and her Blue Jays are currently sporting a 10-11 record but have won 4 of their last 6 games. They are 1-2 in conference play. With 3 regular season games left to play, Smith thinks her team is poised to finish strong and make some noise in the District playoffs. “We are continuing to grow as a team and gain momentum. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season and I’m extremely proud of us. Our effort the past few weeks isn’t reflected in our record yet, but I’m confident it will be by the end of the season.”
Although Laney didn’t acknowledge the fact, with the number of games remaining, she has a very good chance to become the Blue Jays’ all-time leading scorer. She needs just 23 more points to break the record.
As for her future plans, Smith has chosen to focus on academics instead of athletics. “I’ve decided to hang up my #14 after basketball season and focus on my education. I’ve made some of my very best friends playing ball, but I think it’s time for me to figure out what I’m going to do with my life. Right now, I plan on either attending SEMO or Mizzou in the fall.”
Something tells me that no matter where life takes Laney Smith, she will be very successful and never stray far from the game she loves.