Craig Harris/Macon County Times After serving as an assistant coach for four seasons, Brooke Smith is taking over as the head coach of the Macon County High volleyball program.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

After serving as an assistant coach for four seasons, Brooke Smith is taking over as the head coach of the Macon County High volleyball program.

The coaching transition should be a simple one for the Macon County High volleyball program.

The new face really isn't new at all.

It's just a matter of one assuming different responsibilities.

Brooke Smith will be taking over as the head coach of the Tigerettes.

Smith succeeds her mother, Shari Bowers.

"I am very, very excited and very nervous at the same time," the 27-year-old Smith said. "It's just because I've never been in the actual head-coaching position before. I've run practices. I've run games, but there's a lot more to it than you really think there is.

"It's very exciting new chapter in my life. At the same, it's very nerve-wracking."

Smith has been the Macon County assistant coach for the last four seasons.

Bowers retired from teaching at the end of the school year and also stepped down after first taking over as the head coach of the program in 2002. She led the program for 11 seasons (from 2002-08 and then from 2015-2018).

Smith played for her mother from 2005-08, a three-year starter who played both setter and outside hitter.

"She has shaped me tremendously," Smith said. "I have played under her for years. She's followed me in club (volleyball) and in college. She coached me when I got off the court. I have learned so much from her, not just playing but even how to teach them about life, not just that volleyball is important … family is important, and growing as a young lady is one of the most important things. If you can teach them that, a lot of times, the things on the court can come to them.

"I learned a lot of more advanced skills in college, because it's a more advanced level. Pretty much, she has coached me my whole life. She has been a huge influence in my life, on the court and off the court."

Smith helped the program to two of its four sectional/substate appearances in 2007 and 2008, losing to Boyd-Buchanan each time. The Tigerettes lost to Page at the same point of the postseason in 2000 and suffered a 25-9, 25-20, 25-21 setback at Red Bank in a Class AA sectional in 2014.

"Whenever I came back from college, I had no desire to help anywhere else or go anywhere else to coach but here," Smith said. "Even before I was in junior high, I was in the gym playing around with them. I have been around this program for such a long time. I've seen it at its max. When I was a junior and senior, we made it to substate. We were one game away from the state (tournament).

"I want to help this program get that far and take that next step. Knowing the girls and knowing their families … around here, you know so many people, and these girls are so passionate about it. I want to see Macon County - every sport in Macon County - succeed, especially volleyball."

Smith was a four-year starter as a defensive specialist at Cumberland University, graduating in 2013.

"Volleyball has been my passion ever since (high) school," Smith said. "When I chose my college, I chose my college according to volleyball, where I wanted to play and scholarships. The whole four years of playing, I always thought that I'd love to coach some day.

"When I was at Cumberland, I would coach teams for leagues on Monday nights and stuff. I had a blast."

Not only did Smith coach under her mother, but she also coached for one season as her sister -- Brittny Bowers -- served as the head coach (from 2010-11 and again from 2013-14).

"Coming from this program, I played here … I've been here … I know what it's like," Smith said. "That helps tremendously. I know the system. That makes a difference."

Smith expects that familiarity to result in a smooth transition for the players.

"I think it will be an easy transition," Smith said. "I was the assistant for four years, so the girls I have, they were freshmen (my third year). I've run practice for four years as well. I would condition them. They pretty much know my every command. They know what I'm going to say before I say it. The newcomers are kind of taken aback at first. The returning players just know what to expect.

"My assistant Kelly (Swindle) will be there, and it will be here sixth year. It's been the same people in there."

Macon County compiled a 17-8 record last season, placing third in District 11-AA during the regular season. The Tigerettes lost five seniors -- Gracie Andrews, Chelsea Avila, Brooklyn Brawner, Bailey Brooks and Halle Shrum.

However, the Tigerettes return experience in senior middle hitter Mattie Butler, sophomore libero Myle Crowder, junior defensive specialist Allie Cliburn, junior middle hitter/outside hitter Kaitlyn Driver and junior outside hitter Hallie Dickens.

After starting as a freshman, Dickens did not play last season due to an ankle injury.

"I feel very excited about what's coming back, Shrum said. "I feel like they're ready. These girls have played club ball since they were freshman. Some played while they were still in junior high. These girls have pushed themselves so hard. All these girls have played club ball or done something extra on the side. They have all pushed themselves tremendously. They are going to be a strong influence on our team."

The team will have go through a six-hour satellite camp conducted by Cumberland University head volleyball coach Kathy Palk in late July, followed by a playday in Chattanooga in early August.