Erin Smith certainly has her share of mentors.
Smith is a senior at George Washington High School, and if you just know her from what she does as an Eagle, you’d know she’s a great athlete.
Not only is she a star forward and captain on the Washington field hockey team, but she’s a talented middle infielder on the Eagles softball team.
She’s very good at both sports, but neither are her true passion. While she loves being a softball and field hockey player, she’s a fighter at heart.
Smith participates in Muay Thai, and previously took karate.
And while learning to fight, she’s found three men who really set a great example for her, and make her the fighter and athlete she is today.
Those men are her dad, who was her first coach in everything she does.
“(Through) fighting, I have a very special bond that me and my dad share,” Smith said. “Ever since I was little we’ve always watched fights together, whether it was at home or we were physically there. That’s another reason I love fighting so much, because it’s something me and my dad share.
“He always tries to give me advice and even when I first started he would work a lot with me. We would spar and he would hold pads for me.”
Her next huge influence would be her Muay Thai trainer at Semper Fi, Ian Austin
“Ian makes Muay Thai easier for me at times because he always checks in with me,” Smith said. “He’s one of those coaches that cares about his students on and off the mat.”
The third one might not even know how big an inspiration he is for her. UFC fighter Sean Brady, a Burholme native who is quickly climbing the ranks in the major leagues of mixed martial arts fighting.
“He’s my role model, and one of the reasons why he is is because he’s not cocky,” Smith said. “Despite being undefeated in the UFC, he doesn’t let that get to his head. He still remembers his roots and as a fighter, you shouldn’t forget the gym you started out at or your coaches that first started out with you.”
In the fight game, Smith has a lot of people to look up to. But at Washington, many people look up to Smith.
While field hockey isn’t her main sport, she’s very good, and this year she’s doubled as a mentor for girls who never played the sport before. She also had to do some recruiting for the team because Washington didn’t have a lot of players. They’re 1-4 on the season, and Smith has two goals and an assist. But she’s done a lot to help the Eagles grow into a better team that will help them not only this year but going forward.
“My biggest role on the team is being a captain,” Smith said. “I lead the chants, I lead the stretches, I help people if they need it, and I give a speech before each game. The big thing I try to tell them is to have fun and be their best. Nobody on the team will get mad if they make a mistake. We’re a team.
“I try to ask girls in school if they want to play because we needed players. I was at freshman orientation and encouraged freshmen to play. I love it, I was one of the leaders and I love helping new people coming into the school because they’re not experienced there. I like being that person, they have an older person to go to. I had my sister who was a senior, that helped me a lot. I like to be that for the younger classmen.”
Smith couldn’t have learned from a better big sister. Her older sister Ireland was a star soccer player, basketball player and softball player before graduating. She’s now playing both soccer and basketball at Gwynedd Mercy.
At first, people referred to her as Ireland’s sister, but it didn’t take long for people to see the younger sister had all of the same great qualities as her sister.
“It was fun because of how successful she was and I’m proud of her, and there’s no jealousy or envy, I’m so proud of her and we’re really close,” Smith said. “If you have a successful older sibling, it’s natural. And I got recognized because I’m her little sister. It put high expectations, but the only sport we do the same is softball. I box and do Muay Thai. We play completely different sports. As an athlete, we got compared, but it was never a bad comparison. She’s her own person and I’m my own person.”
Smith continues to blaze her own trail, and she intends to do the same in college, where she wants to find a school with a boxing program.
“I would love to box in college,” Smith said. “I wish they had Muay Thai, but it’s really hard to find a school with that. I would like to take education and teach high school. I’m looking at a few colleges. I want to teach high school because I’ve always had teaching in the back of my head, and I’d want to coach boxing or Muay Thai.
“As a teacher, you get to teach and help the kids who need to be helped. Not every kid can go home and have a family that’s there for them. Teachers can be there. I’m lucky to have that and I want to be there for kids who need it.”
She’s looking forward to finishing out high school strong, in academics, athletics and fighting.
“I had some injuries, so I took some time off, but I’m getting back into fighting soon,” Smith said. “I’m fine for field hockey, but I’m getting better.
“I feel great, and I’m proud of what we’re doing at Washington. We are getting better every game. We have a good team and I’m proud to be the captain.”