By GREG WILLIAMS
PHILADELPHIA — Lions, Owls and Bears, oh my. Not exactly how the famous line from “The Wizard of Oz” goes, but Mifflin County High School product Kyle Smith isn’t complaining.
Smith served as a football equipment manager for Penn State before finding himself in the pro ranks with the NFL’s Chicago Bears as an equipment intern. Fast forward to today and Smith is back in the Keystone State, working as an assistant equipment manager for the Temple Owls.
“I was excited to get back to the college level after my internship with the Chicago Bears,” Smith said. “I felt like college was a better fit for me and the chance to be at Temple – back in my home state – was something I was looking forward to as well.”
Smith was a student manager at Penn State from January 2018 through December 2020. He then interned from July 2021 to April 2022 at Penn State until the opportunity with the Bears popped up from April 2022 through September 2022. He started at Temple in September. “I was at lunch after practice one day and hit a text from one of my bosses from PSU, who is now at Virginia Tech, about the opening at Temple,” Smith said. “After talking with (equipment manager) Paige (Shinberg), I accepted the assistant position.”
The Owls are coming off a disappointing 3-9 campaign, but Smith isn’t complaining. He is loving his new surroundings and enjoying married life as in June 2021 he wed Hannah (Kauffman), who also graduated from Mifflin County and competed in track and field for the Huskies. The couple now reside in Philadelphia, about 20 minutes from the Temple campus.
“I have more responsibilities and I’m in a leadership position,” Smith said. “We have student managers where I have to learn how to delegate responsibility because it’s my first time in this role. As an intern, I would show up when they said show up, do what was assigned to me and didn’t have the opportunity to really do what they didn’t want me to.
“Now, as an assistant, I have more freedom to do anything that needs done and teach our students,” he added. “I’m also learning a lot from our head manager. She is one of five (female) head equipment managers at the FBS level.”
Smith’s main responsibility is to keep players safe by making certain they are wearing the proper equipment and their equipment is always working properly. He also monitors laundry detail.
In this age of alternate uniforms, Smith also hands out any extra equipment players might use to “swag themselves out,” he said.
Smith is still trying to figure out his ultimate game plan. “This last year has been a whirlwind for me,” he said. “Since the start of 2022, I’ve been with three teams: Penn State, Chicago and Temple. “I’m still trying to figure out what direction I want to ultimately take. But I would say to be successful and enjoy what I do, and make a good living for me and my wife.”
Although Temple has not officially released its 2023 football schedule, several websites have the Owls opening the season at home against the Akron Zips on Sept. 2 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Thea Neimond (McAlisterville/East Juniata High School) and the Messiah College Falcons earned a spot in the Division III national semifinals; however, the road stopped there as they dropped a 4-1 decision to Johns Hopkins.
A 5-4 defender, the junior started all 25 games for Messiah. She did not record any statistics in tournament wins over Emory University, 1-0, in the NCAA Section semifinals on Nov. 19; Washington University in St. Louis, 2-2 (Messiah won 5-4 on penalty kicks), in the NCAA Section final on Nov. 20; or against Hopkins in the national semis on Dec. 2.
Messiah ended the season at 20-2-3. Hopkins went on to win the Division III over Case Western.
Max Lauver (Mifflintown/Juniata High School) played No. 1 singles and doubles for Division III Elizabethtown College this fall.
In his debut at No. 1 singles, the freshman lost a three-set decision to Penn State Abington’s Andrew Brown, 6-3, 5-7 and 9-11 on Sept. 17. Lauver then teamed up with Isaac Reichenbach at No. 1 doubles and lost 8-7, including 7-5 in the tiebreaker to Penn State-Abington’s Andrew Brown and Josh Kurek. The Blue Jays lost 9-0 in their season opener.
On Sept. 18, Lauver lost to Immaculata University’s Jason Watts, 6-2 and 6-3. He and Reichenbach dropped an 8-3 decision to Jason Watts and Troy Watts. The Blue Jays dropped the match by an 8-1 count.
On Sept. 24-25, at the King’s College Men’s Invitational in Wilkes Barre, Lauver split his singles matches. He defeated Arcadia University’s Jonathan Noble before dropping a quarterfinal match to James Harrington of FDU, 6-0 and 6-0.