Charles Henderson’s Smartt honored as Bryan-Jordan Student-Athlete award winner
Published 3:00 am Saturday, April 11, 2015
By Dan Smith
In the eyes of elementary school children at local ballparks with baseball gloves, bats and Laffy Taffy in hand, he is 10-feet tall and a hero beyond anything any Marvel comic book illustrator could offer.
In the eyes of his classmates and the people of Troy, Chase Smartt is not only admired for his abilities playing the game that fills every vessel of his heart, but he is appreciated more so for his class, character and a humbleness that is beyond his years. It is obvious this is a young man whose mama and daddy raised him right.
This Monday evening in Birmingham, the senior catcher will be a finalist for the Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Achievement award at the Sheraton Inn.
Smartt has already been selected as a Class 5A regional winner, will be presented a $2,500 scholarship at the banquet, and is also eligible for an additional $3,000 if he wins the state award in the 5A classification against seven other regional winners.
The Bryant-Jordan Achievement award recognizes student-athletes that have had success on the field while overcoming difficult obstacles on and off the field.
At age 2 1/2, doctors informed Mark and Debbie Smartt that nerve damage at birth had caused their son to be deaf. A cochlear implant was surgically installed behind Chase’s ear, which is a small electronic device that allows the young man to hear.
Speech therapy was needed so Chase could learn to talk clearly, numerous surgeries were required to replace implants that quit working, and today he joins his teammate and best-buddy Austin Ingram as the unquestioned leaders of the CHHS baseball program.
“He’s very deserving of this award, and to get to participate in this banquet,” said CHHS Head Coach Derek Irons. “As far as on the field, what he has accomplished has spoken for itself. But this award is more than what is done on the field. It’s about character, it’s about obstacles that people have overcome, it’s about adversity they have faced and overcome, and for them to recognize Chase and his accomplishments and hard work is very gratifying to me, and really it’s an honor for our team, our program, our school, and our entire community.
“Chase has really been a leader for us since he was a sophomore. That year was his third year on the varsity. He just loves the game. I just keep coming back to that anytime I talk to anyone about Chase. He just loves the game, and because he loves it, he loves practice, he loves working with younger players, and just leading. He loves winning and leading guys to do the things they need to do to be successful.”
Smartt is thankful for the opportunities he has had at CHHS, the relationship he has forged with Coach Irons, and appreciative that he has the opportunities to talk baseball with the young people of Troy.
“I just want to thank Coach Irons and Coach (Brad) McCoy for nominating me for this scholarship,” said Smartt. “What is nice about my school, is that the city of Troy is a baseball city. Everybody is talented, and I’ve been playing with a lot of talented teams here in Troy which I am blessed with. I’m blessed with my dad being a coach at Troy University, and I’m blessed Coach Irons put me on the team my 8th grade year.
“I always love to see kids come and watch our games. There are a lot of fans and kids that come out to watch this team, and when I have a chance to talk to the kids we always talk about baseball. When I talk to kids, I just tell them to work hard in school and outside of school, on the field, off the field, but always have heart into it. If you do not have heart in it, you will not achieve what you want or go very far.”