Kim Smith steps down from coaching Archer soccer, focuses on role as athletic director

Director+of+Athletics+Kim+Smith+watches+her+team+compete+in+a+game+at+night.+After+coaching+Archer+soccer+for+11+seasons%2C+Smith+has+decided+to+step+down+this+year.

Photo credit: Provided by Kim Smith

Director of Athletics Kim Smith watches her team compete in a game at night. After coaching Archer soccer for 11 seasons, Smith has decided to step down this year.

By Audrey Chang, News Editor

Eleven years. Eleven years of coaching games. Eleven years of holding practices. Eleven years of pep talks before playing. After coaching 11 seasons of Archer soccer, Athletic Director Kim Smith has decided to step down from her position as Head Coach of varsity soccer to focus on her goals for the entirety of the Archer athletics program.

Smith has been coaching high school soccer for 18 years, beginning at Palisades High School in 2004, where she coached for seven years while also coaching youth club soccer at the Westside Breakers, Manhattan Beach Sand and Surf and the USC Women’s Club Soccer team. She transferred to Archer as a soccer coach and went on to lead the whole athletics department.

The main reason Smith decided to step down from her soccer coaching position this year was to be able to devote more time to supporting all Archer athletes, coaches and teams.

“We have a record number of athletes who are participating in Archer athletics, and I felt like it was a good time to step away so that I could fully support the athletes and the teams and the coaches and to make sure that everything we do is mission-aligned,” Smith said. “It’s hard to do that when you’re full on with one varsity team, and so it’s just another chapter and a new direction and new goals for me as athletic director to be fully able to support those teams.”

Smith said that every season had great significance to her, but one of the most memorable years was the 2013-2014 season, when the team advanced through two rounds of CIF playoffs with wins in penalty kicks followed by a 1-0 win during a downpour to make it to the semifinals of CIF. She said that one of the most meaningful parts of her experience at Archer has been being able to build a special culture on the team and to be able to see the players’ culture and hard work come to life through competition over the years.

“At Archer, when I came in [and] when I left Pali, it was a thriving program. We’d gone all the way to CIF championships, so I wanted a different challenge,” Smith said. “It was a new program, and I love the idea of building something, and so I think the most rewarding part of this experience has been watching Archer soccer not only build, but also establish a culture that I’m proud of.”

Senior Alyssa Ponrartana has been coached by Smith for three years and has played Archer soccer for five years. Ponrartana said some of the most memorable parts of her time with Archer soccer have been the playoff games and Smith’s yearly inspirational sayings.

Coach Smith was definitely very dedicated and passionate about Archer soccer, and I would say that transferred over to all the players because when Coach would show up every time and emphasize how important the team is… [it] asked more of us to show up for the team and really be a part of the community.

— Alyssa Ponrartana ('23)

“Coach Smith gave really good motivational speeches,” Ponrartana said. “I’ll always remember ‘feather it away,’ which was our saying for let[ting] go of all your outside stressors and just focus on the game right now — the task at hand… The [saying] last year was ‘huddle,’ [which] represented community.”

Head Coach Jessica White is stepping in for Smith to lead varsity soccer this season, and Smith said that since White has had a lot of experience with Archer soccer, she is looking forward to seeing where she takes the team.

“I felt that the program was in a great space, and I felt that we had the coaching staff in place — Jessica White is the new head coach, and she was the associate head coach last year, and she’d also been a part of the middle school program,” Smith said. “She’s familiar with the Archer soccer culture and was ready to build and to take that and use her skills and expertise to take it even further, and I really saw it as an opportunity.”

Junior Cate Childers has been playing Archer soccer since sixth grade and has been coached by Smith for her previous two high school seasons. She said her favorite part of being on the team has been the close-knit environment Smith has helped foster over time.

“She has always been very supportive. I still talk to her about college recruiting,” Childers said. “She was making it fun because obviously school soccer is very different from club, but I think it’s brought people together, and now I’m close friends with the seniors and people I’ve played with, so I think she just made a very supportive environment.”

Ponrartana said she will most remember and carry on Smith’s dedication and is enthusiastic on her behalf about her new experiences.

“Coach Smith was definitely very dedicated and passionate about Archer soccer, and I would say that transferred over to all the players because when Coach would show up every time and emphasize how important the team is… [It] asked more of us to show up for the team and really be a part of the community,” Ponrartana said. “We’re really excited to see Coach Smith’s next chapter and where she goes next.”