By Cindy Jo Ayers
Saturday night, May 27, was a sad night for many longtime Trenton High School sports fans. When Michael Smith’s name was called to receive his diploma, it officially ended the era of Smith athletes at Trenton High School.
For some 11 years, one or more of Shannon and Christine Smith’s sons have played football, basketball and baseball for Trenton High School. To say the Smith brothers will be missed at THS is an understatement. Lyle Wilkerson, a longtime Trenton Coach, said “They are all warriors, they never wanted to come off the field, even if they were hurt, they played on. They had toughness second to none. They gave great effort every single play, it was just expected, that is how their parents raised them.” He also praised their leadership skills and how much that attribute had helped athletics at THS through the years.
This story began a long, long time ago when Shannon Smith and Christine Pierce attended the same church in St. Petersburg. Their families knew each other but they did not attend the same schools. After high school they both went to college, she went to University of Central Florida to get an education degree and he went off to West Point. Shannon played baseball four years at West Point, started at pitcher all four years, played third base his first year and first base his last three years.
Time passed and they became reacquainted during the summer before their senior year.
They became Mr. and Mrs. Smith in 1990 and spent the next ten years in the Army. Shannon and Christine were stationed in Oklahoma, Germany, back to Oklahoma and then up to Michigan. All four sons, Caleb, Jonathan, Stephen and Michael were born while Shannon was serving in the United States Army.
After much thought and prayer they decided ten years in the military was enough.
Shannon got a job in Orlando working for an investment management firm. After three years he decided that he wanted to return to school and become an attorney. Christine went from being a home schooling mom to a full time teacher and Shannon opened Smith Asset Management while attending law school.
All the while planning a move to this area of the state.
Shannon began camping at Otter Springs when he was six, with his parents Snuffy and Christine Smith. During that time he and his family grew to appreciate the wholesomeness of this area.
Shannon said, “I always knew I wanted to raise my children here.”
Christine said that she looked into the education opportunities for her sons in this area. They talked to people who had moved up from Central Florida to this area to find out which school might be the best fit their sons. Christine said that when it was all said and done, after much research, Trenton was the best choice for their family.
In the meantime Shannon’s parents, Snuffy and Christine Smith moved up to the area. On March 1, 2006 they opened the doors to Smith Asset Management, Co., LLC and Smith Law Firm on Park Avenue in Chiefland. Shannon and Snuffy are the attorneys in the firm and Shannon’s mother, Christine is the receptionist.
At the time the boys were 14, 12-1/2, 11, and 8-1/2. They began playing Suwannee Valley League when they moved here. Their dad has helped coach almost every sport they played, while their mother, and grandparents were always on the sideline cheering them on.
A little later Christine began teaching English and reading at Trenton High School and filling the role as cheerleader sponsor for eight years.
According to Shannon each son’s athletic career at THS was unique. Caleb excelled as a catcher in baseball, Jonathan’s strength was playing the linebacker position, Stephen was a great quarterback and Michael was a quarterback and nicknamed the Silent Assassin for his defensive skills. Caleb, Stephen and Michael all were quarterbacks during their years playing football. In just one game when his brother got hurt Jonathan did have the opportunity to quarterback. During that game the team had over 600 yards rushing which was quite a feat for a Trenton football team.
Jonathan, Stephen and Michael were all part of one or more of the four recent State Championship Teams.
Michael was on all four of the State Championship teams. He walked away from Trenton High with two rings for baseball (2013 and 2017) and two rings for football (2013 and 2015).
It is very unusual for a single athlete to be on four State Championship teams involving two sports in a Class 1A public school. When the Tigers got their first State Championship title in recent years back in 2013 Michael played third base and was in the 8th grade.
When asked about their sons success on the sports field and academically, Shannon Smith said, “Faith in the Lord has always been at the center of our family.” He and his wife recalled how each evening Shannon would pray with his sons at bedtime. Shannon said that he always included a motto that he had learned years ago at West Point, “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” They went on to say they had tried to raise their sons with a warrior mentality. Shannon said, “We expected them to not only meet the standards but to exceed them in the classroom and on the field.”
Their best advice to other parents was to give your children a Christian heritage.
When asked if they would miss watching their sons on the field and court next school year. Shannon said, “It’s been a great ride.”
Today if you want to find one of the Smith boys, you don’t have to go far. Stephen, Jonathan and Michael are all spending the first part of the summer working in watermelons for local farmers.
In the Fall Jonathan and Michael will move to North Georgia to play baseball for the University of North Georgia. They will both be part of the ROTC program there.
Stephen will be playing baseball for the University of Tampa, where he has a full scholarship.
Caleb graduated West Point in 2015. He is now a First Lieutenant in the Army and is stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado. Caleb married Kenzie Silcox of Newberry in December of 2016.
Longtime Trenton Coach Todd Bryant recalled that the boys were always hardworking, competitive and that the brothers made up one third of the lineup when the baseball team won the 2013 State Championship title.
Coach Bryant praised Shannon, Snuffy and their wives for always being very involved in and very gracious to this community.
Coach Bryant said, “I don’t think we would have won four state titles without the Smiths.”