GUYTON — Don’t expect South Effingham’s new athletic director to veer far off the course set by his predecessor, Jeff Faith.
Nick Smith succeeded Faith last week. Faith, a former Region 2-AAAAA athletic director of the year who held the post for six years, moved to Crossroads Academy to serve as its assistant coordinator.
Smith emerged from a field of 18 applicants. He was one of four to receive an interview.
“Coach Faith did a great job of setting the foundation and there are a lot of great things in place at South Effingham,” Smith said. “I am just looking to build upon what he has already started. I think Coach Faith is about kids first and I am as well.”
One of Smith’s new responsibilities is keeping tabs on the academic eligibility of his school’s athletes. There are plenty of other things important to him, however.
“For me, I really just want us to be one program,” he said. “I want to support the kids and the coaches in any way that I can. I want to see the kids grow as students and athletes.
“Anything that I can do along the way to assist in that is what I want to do.”
Smith, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgia Southern, said South Effingham already has a strong sense of unity among its faculty and student body.
“It’s all culture,” he said. “If we are all in it together, everybody is rooting for one another and we are all on the same page, it lights the community on fire, it’s fun and it’s great for the community. That’s certainly what we all envision.”
Smith said becoming an athletic director was not on his agenda when he started his career in education.
“I was looking to be around good people who I could learn from about football,” he said. “I was fortunate to be around good coaches who were also good men who taught me the game and how to coach.”
Smith started as a social studies teacher and linebackers coach at Effingham County. His classroom was across the hall from current Rebels athletic director Matt Huntley.
After spending a year at his alma mater, Toombs County, Smith arrived at South Effingham in 2010. He has served the Mustangs in various capacities, including the last year and a half as assistant principal.
“When students leave here, I want them to always look at this as home,” Smith said. “I want them to have a positive outlook on the place they come from and I want them to wear that South jersey with pride.”