Smith signs to continue athletic career

Published 9:45 am Thursday, March 7, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — Bryce Smith signed off on the next chapter in his athletic career Thursday morning. Friends, coaches and family filled the Brookhaven High School library to celebrate the day.

Life is a story full of ups and downs and Smith has felt his share of the highs and lows in the last two years of high school. His athletic future became uncertain on August 26, 2022 when he suffered a devastating knee injury against Lawrence County in the KDMC Kickoff Classic. 

Smith emailed the paper seeking for any photos of him from the game because he believed at the time it would be his last time to play a sport.

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Nearly 13 months after his injury, KDMC celebrated their first comeback athlete award recipient, Smith grinned ear to ear. He was cleared to play football and he did so. Smith won one of two Heisman Scholarships in Mississippi in November. 

In December, the senior goalie scored his first varsity goal for the Panthers in a seven goal win over McLaurin. Smith had played varsity soccer for six years.  

He signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to play goalie Thursday. 

“I didn’t know if I would ever play soccer again,” Smith said. “Now I’m here today, signing with one of the best teams in the state right now.” 

Smith said the signing felt great and it was a culmination of a six year journey, 10 years if you count club soccer. He thanked everyone for coming to the library to celebrate the occasion and thanked them for their support. His mom Erin Smith thanked the coaches for believing in Bryce. 

BHS Head Coach Aaron Ayers said he was proud of Smith. 

“I think Gulf Coast is getting a great goalie. In my time at BHS, he is one of the best goalies I’ve seen. I’m very proud of him,” Ayers said. “Every year he has gotten better. Even when I don’t think he can get much better than he already is, he will turn up and surprise me. I’m excited to see how he progresses. He has great things in store for him.” 

MGCCC went 13-3-2 this past soccer season and on average allowed 1.05 goals per game. Smith said he is ready to take on the challenge and will put in the hard work. 

“I love the way their mentality is. They never give up and they won’t beg you to be there,” Smith said. “They may want you but they won’t beg you to stay. It certainly led me to choose their program.” 

He plans to study engineering. Smith said he had dreams of going to the Naval Academy and said it is still an option but for now he is locked in on going to MGCCC. 

Gulf Coast has a beautiful campus comparable to a D1 University. Smith said the dorms there were great. He added none of his friends were going to MGCCC so he is ready to make new friends on campus in Perkinston. 

Ayers said Smith was one of the cornerstones for Brookhaven’s team. Ole Brook soccer will lose 10 seniors to graduation this year. 

Smith had simple advice for the underclassmen at BHS. 

“No matter how tough the road looks, look for the brightest part. No matter how dark life gets there is light at the end of the tunnel,”  Smith said. “If you work hard you will succeed.”