Lana Smith sets career wins record


File photo contributed by Daryl Batt.

by Gunnar Davis, Sports Editor

Lana Smith took over as the new head coach of Simpson College volleyball in 1999. Now, nearly 20 years later, she stands atop the leaderboard with the most career wins by a Simpson volleyball coach.

With the Storm’s sweep of Monmouth on Oct. 13, Smith moved ahead of Shelly O’Meara, earning her 333rd win in her time at Simpson. Although she’s proud of the achievement, Smith never saw this coming when she first started.

“Twenty years ago, I was really driven to do great things within the program because I was following an amazing coach,” Smith said. “Shelly O’Meara had done so many great things, and I was hoping we could just hold on to that tradition and still make an impact.”

Smith holds on to a winning tradition. Her teams have had a winning record in 10 different seasons, most notably in 2006 and 2009, when the Storm won the Iowa Conference and made the NCAA tournament.

“We have had so many memorable teams at Simpson, and I think the best achievement is probably just the relationship we have with the alumni,” Smith said. “They left their mark on Simpson as well and I feel really blessed to have them in my life.”

Junior middle hitter Hannah Lester is in her third year of being coached by Smith. She thinks her coach has done a great job developing a relationship with her players.

“I believe Lana has had consistent success here because she truly has a passion for the game of volleyball and genuinely cares about all the women she has coached throughout the years, on and off the volleyball court,” Lester said.

Even in her 19th year, Smith said there are new things that happen daily. She also says it is one of the things she loves about the job.

“I love the challenge. The challenge every day is different,” Smith said. “I like working with young adults. I am super competitive, so I love that grind of trying to get the next victory. It’s just the challenge of what we do every day on a day to day basis.”

The Storm currently sit at 7-15 on the year. Although the squad has taken some tough losses, Smith says she is happy to come to work every day to learn and get better.

“I think just finishing out with the amazing group of young people,” Smith said. “The team that we have right now, the young ladies are full of integrity. They’re wonderful teammates and a joy to work with.”

She’s accomplished many things at Simpson, but Smith says she still has goals for the rest of her career.

“Every day is such a great opportunity for me to come to, you don’t even have to call it a job,” she said. “Athletics is something that has always been a part of my life. I think we want to continue that culture and keep cultivating that for as long as we can.”

Smith will look to secure win No. 334 on Friday at home against Dubuque.