As Smyrna high baseball prepares for the coming season, these Bulldogs are breathing in some fresh and very crisp air. This inhalation has nothing to do with Mother Nature, but rather the presence of first-year coach Mark Schildmeier.
Making his way to Bulldog Drive in the late Spring of 2021, this West Tennessee native came to Middle Tennessee with eyes on building a consistent winner in one of the toughest baseball counties in the State. Fresh off a six-year stint as an assistant at the highly successful Collierville high school, Schildmeier has also been a part of a winning tradition at Germantown high. Eager to construct a winning culture at Smyrna, the first thing the hard-working coach did was ask questions.
“We were going to have summer tryouts but the threat of bad weather caused us to postpone”, says Schildmeier. “A lot of the players showed up anyway so I just asked them what they thought needed to happen for us to win. Much to my liking, they said more structured practices and more discipline. Those things were already part of the plan, but it was great to hear them say it. Now that we have started practice I sometimes remind them they are just getting what they asked for.”
Hoping to bring an aggressive style of baseball to the Bulldogs, this former head coach at Millington believes in the fundamentals of the game. Now that practice has started for his first season in Smyrna, baseball education is a key component.
“We are trying to build better baseball players”, says Schildmeier. “Part of that process is teaching the game of baseball in general. Understanding the many aspects of all the positions helps everyone no matter where you play. We want our kids to have a better grasp of the entire game of baseball.”
While mixing the mortar of this baseball program building process, Schildmeier has also embraced the past of his new home. Understanding the proud athletic tradition of the oldest high school in Rutherford County, this new Pup is eager to become another one of the old Dogs.
“I could not be more impressed with Smyrna and how the community embraces the athletic programs here”, says Schildmeier. “The administration has been so supportive and the history here is just fantastic. Bulldog pride is huge and I just hope I can live up to some of the past and walk the path of a real Bulldog.”
Part of embracing the past will come in the form of a baseball alumni weekend on March 11 and 12. Welcoming old Bulldogs back for a hit-a-thon and alumni game are just part of trying to build the future while recognizing the past. For more info on this event, you can e-mail Schildmeier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Things have been a bit easier for me than I originally anticipated”, says the new Bulldog coach. “Of course there have been challenges, but the people here have made things move along quite well. I don’t think I could ask for a better situation to walk into than the one I have here at Smyrna high.”