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Perrysburg grad Barb Smith starts as head basketball coach at Illinois State

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Barb Smith, a Perrysburg High School graduate, is now head coach of the Illinois State women's basketball team.

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Barb Smith, a 1982 graduate of Perrysburg High School, was introduced recently as head coach of the Illinois State University women's basketball team.

"It is very exciting, this is an outstanding opportunity," Smith said. "There have been great coaches here before me that have taken good care of the program, there is great administration here and the community really gets behind the team."

Illinois State is a Division I university based in Normal, Ill. that plays in the Missouri Valley Conference. In the past eight years, the women's basketball team has gone to six Women's National Invitation Tournament and two NCAA Tournament's. Smith started May 20 on a five-year contract earning $215,900 a year.

The position opened when former coach Stephanie Glance took the head coaching position at Columbia after three straight WNIT appearances and a 24-11 record last year.

She comes from Saint Louis University where she was an associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and offensive coordinator. She was an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota for six years prior. The Golden Gophers had a 115-75 record, five postseason appearances, including four NCAA Tournaments during that span.

"We are thrilled to welcome Barb Smith to the Redbird Family as our head women's basketball coach," said Gary Friedman, Illinois State athletic director. "Her knowledge of the game, depth of experience, leadership, passion and work ethic are highlights of why she is the right fit to lead our women's basketball program."

She was a head coach at San Diego State for five years starting in 1997, and went to California to be an assistant after that. 

"I've been blessed to have great opportunities and a coaching career," Smith said. "Perrysburg High School had a great program and very good success when I was there that helped point me to coaching."

She said her Perrysburg coaches, Kathy Freese and Carolyn Peabody, were great role models for her that taught her about winning and working as a team at a young age.

"I've taken a lot away from Perrysburg," Smith said. "The value of community support and student support is something I'll always remember about Perrysburg."

Peabody said when Smith was in high school her team won the state championship in volleyball, too. She also said even though she was an good scorer she was an unselfish player and good passer.

"She was an excellent athlete, person and scholar determined and hard working," Peabody said. "She really wanted to play at Ohio State so every day the summer before she was running and working on her basketball skills. She walked on and then got a scholarship."

Smith, a former Buckeyes guard won four Big Ten championships, is working on relocating from St. Louis to Normal, Ill.  

"I've enjoyed following her career and see her succeed," Peabody said. "She has worked hard for her coaching career."

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

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