Last weekend, Smith was inducted into the Georgia United States Specialty Sports Association Slowpitch Softball Hall of Fame. The banquet was held at Turner Lake in Newton County.
With the induction, Smith became the first female player to be recognized under the “Legends” category and she is only the 13th woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame since its beginning in 1987.
“I consider it a great honor to be recognized for a softball career which has been one of my greatest joys and pleasures,” Smith said. “This career provided me with associations I will cherish all the days of my life. Teammates, coaches and officials of the game meant much to me during my playing years and my appreciation for them has grown with the passing of time. There are not words adequate for me to express my gratitude to all of them for their friendship, their encouragement and their personal sacrifice of time and expense to make it possible for me to have played on some outstanding teams.
“Being the first female player to be recognized under the ‘Legends’ category sounds like I’m old,” she added. “No, it is given to someone who played a long period of time, and who left ‘their mark’ on the game. To be recognized in any category in a Hall of Fame is a tribute. It was a wonderful feeling being inducted as a player into the Georgia ASA Softball Hall of Fame in 2001 and now into the USSSA Softball Hall of Fame is even greater. I don’t think my high school softball players believe I ever played softball.”
For 25 years Smith played softball for various traveling tourney teams including Calhoun First National Bank, Trend Mills of Rome, Rome Stars, Carol’s Fashions of Dalton, Precision Services of Dalton, SSI of Calhoun, Georgia Outlaws of Calhoun and Bryant Logging of Calhoun.
Her coaches included Pat Pendley, James Owens, Adrian Gillespie, Jerry Dills, Erwin Manis, Jimmy Massengill, Maurice Saltzman, Tommy Moore and David Bryant.
Smith started her career at age 11 at Belwood School. Her first league play came at the age of 13 on a woman’s recreational team. She retired from playing in the sport at the age of 38 in 1991.
During her 25 years she earned several honors and awards. Among these were being named to 43 All-tourney teams, being named Most Valuable Player in 27 tournaments, playingin numerous District, State and Regional Championship teams, being named to the All-Georgia Team in her last year of competition, playing in 16 national tournaments, playing on the NSA National Championship team in 1987 for SSI of Calhoun, and being named to All-State and All-Regional teams.
As a player at the Calhoun Recreational Department, she had the highest batting average 14 times, lead in home runs 12 times, won the league championship every year and won numerous District and State titles.
She joined former teammate Iris Kinnebrew and her coach Jerry Deal, who were named members in 1987 and 2009 respectfully. Smith, Kinnebrew and Deal are the only people to be inducted into the Hall of Fame from the Northwest Georgia Area.
Joining my long-time teammate, Iris Kinnebrew and my former coach, Jerry Deal, in the USSSA Hall of Fame, made the honor even more special to me,” said Smith. “I played on teams with Iris longer than with anyone else. My association with her enriched my playing years with great pleasure then, and deepened wonderful memories now.”
Smith is the only female player to be inducted into the Georgia ASA Hall of Fame and the USSSA Hall of Fame. These are the two major softball associations. She was inducted into the ASA Hall of Fame in 1991.
Outside of softball, Smith played in several GRPA District and State Champion basketball and coed volleyball teams. She played softball, basketball, volleyball and ran track all four years at Calhoun High School. She graduated in 1971.
She then went to Berry College on an athletic scholarship for both basketball and volleyball. She was the first female athlete from Calhoun to receive an athletic scholarship. She graduated from Berry with a degree in Heath and Physical Education. She received a Masters Degree in 1999 from Jacksonville State University.
Smith has coached basketball, track, soccer and softball. She coached basketball for 31 years at Calhoun Middle School. She coached track at the school for 22 years and soccer for two years. She has been the head softball coach at Calhoun High for the past 24 years.
She was also a softball official for 11 years where she was member of ASA, USSSA and GHSA Officials Association.
“Softball has been, and still is, a big part of my life,” smith concluded.”
Smith has two daughters. Her oldest daughter, Jaime Ralston Garrett, is married to Dan Garrett, and is the Media Specialist at Calhoun Primary/Elementary School. Her youngest daughter, Kayla Ralston, is a sophomore at Kennesaw State University where she is majoring in Physical Education. Smith has been married to Coach Jerry Smith for the past 13 years. Jerry is retired from Calhoun High School as a math teacher, athletic director and head football coach.