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Smith returns to coaching as new skipper of senior Bearcats

John Smith will coach the Truro Bearcats senior men's baseball team this season. Smith, a fiery competitor during his own playing days, takes the reins from John Chapman.
John Smith will coach the Truro Bearcats senior men's baseball team this season. Smith, a fiery competitor during his own playing days, takes the reins from John Chapman. - Joey Smith

TRURO, N.S. – The Truro Bearcats of the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League have a new head coach.

John Smith, a former senior player in Truro, will guide the team during the 2018 season. He takes the reins from John Chapman, who has been player-coach of the club for the past four years.

“I’m going to be happy to coach them,” said Smith, 53.

“I came out because I like these guys and I coached a lot of these guys growing up and I enjoy being around them.”

Smith is familiar with the team and its players. His sons Jason and Tyler are members of the Bearcats and John has spent many summer nights watching from the stands at the TAAC Grounds.

“There’s so much potential here,” he said. “These guys are athletic, they’re a very good team, they just need some direction.”

Smith takes over a team that struggled last season. The Bearcats had a record of 9-19, but squeaked into the playoffs, just ahead of the Kentville Wildcats. Truro was swept in three straight post-season games by the eventual league-champion Sydney Sooners. 

Smith describes himself as a passionate coach who will push his players in an effort to maximize their potential.

“I want the best out of my players and I’m not asking anything more than what I would expect of myself,” he said. “I’m going to be a little bit hard on them, so they know there’s going to be discipline and there’s going to be rules – I’ve got to have them.

“I’m aggressive and I want the boys to run hard on the base paths and I want them to be individually smart … but I just want these kids to have fun; bring the fun back to it because when you’re losing it’s not fun.”

Chapman, who played under Smith at the intermediate level, said the new coach is a perfect fit for a young group of players who will benefit from a veteran presence.

“He’s a straight shooter; what he says he means and if guys don’t follow, they’re going to find out pretty quick.”

Dual role took its toll on Chapman

TRURO, N.S. – John Chapman feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

Chapman has been both player and coach of the Truro Bearcats for the past four years. That will change this season with the addition of new head coach John Smith.

“It was starting to take its toll on me,” Chapman said of the dual role. “It was affecting my game, as well, and it started to become not fun anymore.

“It was hard to coach and play; try and worry about your own game, let alone everybody else and make sure the team’s managed right … so it’s nice to have one guy in control and make decisions when need be.”

Smith said Chapman was in a tough situation as both a player and a coach, and that he did an admirable job in helping keep senior baseball alive in Truro.

“He did so much damn work for this team and he kept these guys together and good for him; my hat is off to him because he was awesome.”

In searching for a new head coach who players would respect and play hard for, Chapman said Smith was his first choice.

“He’ll take them under his wing and they’ll follow his lead all the way; he’s a very good leader.”

Chapman, the on-field leader of the Bearcats, has attended indoor workouts with the club during the past two weeks. He said he’s leaning towards returning this season, but he hasn’t made a commitment just yet.

“I’m getting a workout to see how I feel,” he said.

Indoor workouts

The Truro Bearcats are getting a jump on the new season and are holding indoor workouts on Wednesdays at the Cougar Dome, beginning at 7 p.m. Anyone interested in playing this summer is encouraged to attend.

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