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Kevin Smith: Smith takes time off from football to head to Beijing

Mike Gotimer | Friday, November 21, 2008

As a linebacker on Notre Dame’s scout team, Irish senior Kevin Smith spends much of his time on the practice field mirroring many of Notre Dame’s opposing linebackers to help his teammates prepare for what opposing defenses will show them on the field each Saturday. However, most of the players that Smith mirrors each day on the field would have an extremely difficult time mirroring Smith’s accomplishments off the field.

Smith walked on to the Notre Dame football team in the spring of his sophomore year, and he is nearing the end of his second fall on the Irish roster. Before joining the Irish, Smith had a busy extracurricular life. Although Smith was very active in RecSports as a member of Knott’s interhall football team and the rugby team – before it was officially reinstated – he was as equally involved in student government. Smith served as Knott Hall vice president, was a member of Student Senate and a representative on the freshman class council.

This past summer, however, Smith was absent from the team’s training camp as he traveled across the world to participate in the experience of a lifetime. Smith was an intern with NBC, and he traveled to the Olympics in Beijing to work as a logger for the network’s coverage of the games. As a logger, Kevin would log video and sound clips so that they could be called up faster at a later time.

He specifically worked on some of the lesser-known events, such as BMX, road cycling, and the triathlon. In addition, his press credentials allowed him to attend many of the other events, including a number of United States men’s basketball games.

As a student majoring in political science and peace studies, the experience was an interesting academic experience for Smith. During his time in China, Smith was able to see China and how impressive their operation was.

“The Olympics were extraordinary, and the Chinese put on a good show,” Smith said. “The Chinese were very nice people.”

Family life is an important aspect of Kevin’s life. Kevin is one of four children in what he describes as a very close, very athletic family. The three Smith boys all play college football. Smith’s older brother James is a fifth-year long snapper at the University of Florida in their hometown of Gainesville, Fla. Kevin’s identical twin Brian is a linebacker on Navy’s undefeated sprint football team.

Because Kevin’s brother plays for the Naval Academy, he had a specific goal set forth for last weekend’s game against Navy. Kevin knew that each week, the scout team player of the week was allowed to travel with the team for the upcoming game. Knowing that this would be his last chance to play in front of his brother, with whom he says he is extremely close with, Smith was determined to win the chance to travel to Navy.

“Each week the scout team player of the week travels with team, so I worked really hard in practice,” Smith said.

Smith was thrilled when he learned that he would be traveling to Navy.

“Normally they announce who the player of the week is at the end of practice, but coach Weis called me into his office on Thursday morning to let me know so my family would have enough time to make arrangements to get to the game,” Smith said.

Kevin said his brother Brian was very excited when he learned that he would be making the trip.

“He was excited for me,” Kevin said. “He has a really sarcastic sense of humor and told me how they were going to destroy us.”

Kevin’s parents and older sister wound up making it to the game to see the youngest Smith boys on the field with each other. The trip wound up being Kevin’s fondest memory of his time on the Irish football team.

“Navy was amazing,” Kevin said. “Traveling with the team makes you feel so involved, and I even got to play on a few plays.”

Heading into his final game at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Kevin is thankful for the opportunity to play for the Irish.

“I’m really happy that I’ve been able to be a part of it,” he said. “I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to do it.”

After graduating from Notre Dame, where he has had a unique and extraordinary college experience, Kevin hopes to join Teach for America and eventually attend law school.