Jason Smith will enter his 7th year as Head Coach of Women’s Basketball this fall. Coach Smith’s team went 18-15 last season, surprising everyone with a remarkable run in the conference tournament by winning four games in four days to take the crown and an invitation to the national tournament in Iowa for the second time in three years. Expectations were high going into the season especially coming off Coach Smith’s best season of 26-5 the year before but the Lady Lions struggled through early defeats but rebounded late in the season will everything mattered. Sophomore Amber Levi led the team in scoring and with her effort she received 1st team all-conference for the second straight year. Senior Megan Billingsby added another stellar season to her career and leaves Bryan as one of its all-time best players in scoring and rebounding. Coach Smith was named with honor as the 2017-2018 AAC Coach of Character. An award that recognized his focus on building quality character above everything else with his women’s basketball players.
The 2016-2017 season was the program’s best finish under Coach Smith and bettered the 2014-15 season where they went 20-11 and had a national tournament appearance, which was the most wins since 2008. Since taking over a last place team, Coach Smith has steadily raised his team towards the top of the Appalachian Athletic Conference. Last season was remarkable considering much of the production came from underclassmen. They were led in scoring by then junior Megan Billingsby and closely followed were two freshmen in Amber Levi and Cheyenne Shaver. Senior point guard, Keila Formont, finished her career as a four-year starter and was the leadership glue that propelled the Lady Lions to much of their success. Both Billingsby and Levi were named First Team All-Conference for their outstanding performances. Shaver and Levi earned All-AAC Freshman team as well.
Coach Smith’s previous 2014-15 team that made their first national tournament appearance since 2008 remarkably overachieved with mostly underclassmen again except for the outstanding leadership and defensive prowess of senior Kelsey Brooks. Billingsby was awarded First Team All-Conference.
The 2013-14 season they were led in scoring by sophomore point guard Keila Formont who was also honored as the Defensive Player of the Year in the AAC. Kristin Lane and Megan Billingsby were honored as well making the AAC All-Freshmen Team. Junior Kelsey Brooks was awarded the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete Award for her efforts in the classroom. Once again, this year’s team was at the top of most defensive categories in the AAC and nationally in the NAIA. The previous season the Lady Lions finished the year with a 17-12 record and a fourth place finish in conference.
The 2012-2013 campaign was memorable by supplanting three Bryan College seasonal records. The Lady Lions finished with all-time season best records in defensive field percentage; defensive scoring; and team blocks per game. The team graduated two seniors: Morgan Burnette and Abigail Pippenger. Burnette collected numerous awards in her final season, most notably was leading scorer of the Appalachian Athletic Conference, as well as First Team All-Conference and All- Conference Defensive Team. Burnette left Bryan as the all-time leader in blocks for a career and a season. Freshman point guard Keila Formont was named to the All-Conference Freshman Team while leading the conference in assists for the year. Coach Smith’s teams have consistently been at the top of most defensive statistics conference-wide and nationally since he took over the program in his inaugural season of 2011-2012 leading the Lady Lions to a 14-16 record.
The prior year he was the assistant coach of the Bryan College men’s basketball team under the tutelage of defensive guru Coach Don Rekoske. Before coming to Bryan, Coach Smith was the assistant coach for the men’s program at Grossmont Community College in El Cajon, Calif., for one season.
Coach Smith had five years of head coaching experience previous to coaching at Grossmont. He was the men’s basketball head coach at San Diego Christian College, an NAIA Division I member, from 2007-2009. He took advantage of the opportunity to coach within one of the most respected and competitive conferences in the NAIA, the Golden State Athletic Conference, and in those two years at SDCC he rebuilt the program from scratch as he had zero players committed when he took over.
Prior to San Diego, Coach Smith was the head men’s coach at Calvary Bible College in Kansas City, Mo., for three years. In his third season there he was named the NCCAA Midwest Region Coach of the Year. He coached an NCCAA All-American and the school’s third and all-time leading career scorers.
Coach Smith has had a successful track record of rebuilding programs and quickly making them competitive conference contenders. He began down his path of coaching while attending the University of Kansas from 1987-1991. Coach Smith served as the varsity manager and game film technician for Coach Roy Williams, current head men’s coach at the University of North Carolina. During his time at KU he learned the particulars of running one of the most premier college programs in the nation. “I have been fortunate to have many different levels of basketball experience and to work with some highly successful coaches,” Smith commented. “I am positive all of those experiences God provided have properly prepared me for this program at this particular time. I’m excited about the future of Lady Lions Basketball.” Coach Smith’s building block for his program begins with the Word of God and its emphasis on “Honor”! “I believe that if we start with a concept of honoring God first and then honoring one another second that the fruit of the Spirit may become active in the lives of my players,” states Smith. On the court he actively pursues toughness and hard work wrapped around the practice motives of practicing fast; practicing spacing; and most importantly practicing skill development.
Coach Smith received his Bachelor of Science degree in Christian Ministry with an emphasis in physical education & coaching from Calvary Bible College in Kansas City, Mo., in 2004. He and his wife, Tina, currently reside in Dayton, Tenn., with their five children Deserie, Shayna, Catherine Joy, Jonas, Joselito and their Golden Retriever named Sargent. He enjoys watching Kansas Basketball, serving in his church, and camping with his family.
Coach Bryon Lawhon is in his fifth season as a coach in the Bryan College men’s basketball program and his fourth with the women's program. He serves as Assistant Coach on Varsity and Head JV Coach for both programs. Coach Lawhon is the Director and Coach of the East Tennessee Rangers AAU program, where he has coached several current college players. He has coached high school teams to a 2013 Runner-Up finish in the USBA National Tournament (38 wins), 2014 USBA National Championship (46 wins) and 2015 NTBA National Championship (43 wins). Prior to coming to Bryan College, Lawhon coached at North Middle School in Lenoir City, Tenn. He helped lead the team to District Runner-Up, State Sectional berth, and a 19-4 record. Coach Lawhon has helped area high school coaches in player development and has worked several camps, including the University of Virginia and University of Kentucky skill camps.
"I am honored for the opportunity to coach at Bryan College,” stated Lawhon.
"It is a real privilege to learn from two proven Coaches in Coach Rekoske and Coach Smith while working with a great staff, faculty and student-athletes."
Coach Lawhon played collegiately at Hiwassee College and Atlanta Christian College, which is now Point University. He played high school basketball at Lenoir City High School in Lenoir City, Tenn., where he was Top 5 All-Time in rebounds and blocked shots in school history. He had several professional offers after finishing at ACC.
Lawhon and his wife, Holly, have four children: Skylar (13), Zane (12), Chase (10), and Kali (8).
After graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2017 with a degree in Sports Management, David Kalk enters his first season as a graduate assistant with the Bryan College Women’s Basketball program.
Kalk spent the past three years as a student manager for the Indiana Wesleyan Women’s Basketball Team. A few of his responsibilities included: participation as a practice player, video coordination, team operations, and in-game coaching.
A South Bend, Indiana native, Kalk was a four-year varsity starter for First Baptist Christian School and Granger Christian School. He helped lead his team, as a freshman, to the IACS Division II State Championship in 2010. He was also voted All-Conference and Team MVP his Junior and Senior year.
Kalk has also gained experience as a summer camp coach at the University of Notre Dame for two years. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at Bryan College.
Some of Kalk’s hobbies outside of basketball include listening and mixing music. He oversaw all the music for the Indiana Wesleyan Women’s basketball team, and has been a DJ for weddings and dances for the past two years.
Kalk remarks, “I could not be more excited to be a part of the Bryan College Women’s Basketball Team, and am very thankful to Coach Smith and Coach Lawhon for the opportunity. I saw a program that prides itself on putting God first, and it shows itself in the players, coaching staff, and administration. The girls in the locker room are a close-knit family, and focused on making their teammates better. There is a lot of young talent and potential on this team, and I am excited to be a part of the journey.”
Kalk brings many skills and talents to the program. “I pride myself on bringing energy and excitement to every workout, practice, and game. I believe that the players can feed off my energy to motivate themselves to give their best effort.” Kalk also has experience in individual skill development, team operations, and video breakdown.
Kalk’s responsibilities at Bryan will be junior varsity head coach while assisting Coach Smith with the varsity program. Coach Smith comments, “David comes highly recommended from a very good NAIA basketball program, Indiana Wesleyan. I am looking forward to mentoring and working with him, but mostly I’m excited that our girls will reap the benefits of his spiritual maturity.”