After nearly joining the Scottsboro baseball program as an assistant coach last summer, a year later Jess Smith is now a Wildcat.
The Russellville assistant coach and Fort Payne alum was hired as Scottsboro’s new head baseball coach during the Scottsboro City Schools Board of Education meeting Thursday night.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Smith said. “Scottsboro is a great place, great community with support for its school, support from the administration. It’s somewhere I felt would be a great fit for me.”
Smith graduated from Fort Payne High School in 2012 before playing two seasons each at Central Alabama Community College and UNA. CACC won a national title during his freshman season. Smith has been an assistant coach at Russellville the past three seasons and was part of the Tigers’ 2017 Class 5A state championship team and their 2018 state runner-up team.
Smith and Talley were teammates at UNA. Talley said Scottsboro’s program is in good hands with Smith.
“Jess is a great leader, high-character guy that’s a going to be one of the hardest workers that program will have ever seen,” Talley said. “He’s going to come in and keep that program going in the right direction.”
Scottsboro went 17-10 last season and won the Class 5A Area 15 championship, its first area title in 12 years.
Smith said winning area championships and reaching the playoffs are now established expectations for the program.
“That’s got to be the expectation every year, and we want to raise the bar every year,” Smith said. “I know Coach Talley did a great job here and started moving the culture in the right direction. The kids are sold out to that. We’re looking to continue what they started this year.”
Smith wants his teams to be known for their competitiveness and work ethic.
“I believe in transformational leadership. We’re going to transform young men into accountable adults. After that, I think the winning takes care of itself,” he said. “We’ll be the most competitive, grittiest, hard-nosed team that will take pride in the little things that others don’t.”