Editor’s note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans has a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with New York guard Katie Smith, who signed a free-agent contract to rejoin former Detroit Shock coach Bill Laimbeer in pursuit of another WNBA championship.
Seattle Times: You won two WNBA titles with Laimbeer in Detroit, so he’s a reason you signed with New York, right?
Katie Smith: It was a huge part. First of all, I’m excited about him being back not only for himself but for the league. He adds a lot from personality and a lot of competitiveness. It’s great for the league. On top of that, yes, I have a great relationship with Bill and am really excited to playing for him, again.
Q: You won two ABL titles with current Storm coach Brian Agler. Did that make the decision not to negotiate a contract to return to Seattle difficult?
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Smith: I didn’t talk to Brian a whole lot during the offseason. I’m not real sure if I was part of their plans or not part of their plans. We talked a couple times when we were back in (our native) Ohio together. There were no issues or anything, just a smooth transition.
Q: I figured because at the 2012 exit interview you intimated you wouldn’t be back in a Storm uniform.
Smith: The last couple of years, I just didn’t know (my future). It’s never been, ‘Hey, we’ve got you locked in.’ There’s always a hesitancy because they’re figuring out what they want to do. For me, when Bill got back in the game, it was easy because he very much wanted me to be a part of it.
Q: Do you surprise yourself by continuing to play at age 39, especially since you don’t play year-round?
Smith: I keep telling people, ‘Man, this is going to be it.’ They won’t believe it until they see it. It feels good. Sometimes you’re like, ‘Dang, I’ve been doing this a long time.’ I’m thankful and appreciative of being able to compete still. I keep chasing around these 22-year-olds and 21-year-olds and am still able to hold my own.
Q: What do appreciate most now that you’ve played 15 seasons in the WNBA?
Smith: The people you meet, like everybody in Seattle. The owners, being with Brian, again, and the new players I got to play with. Every experience brings so much and you can’t beat it. You think, ‘Really? This is what I’ve been doing for 15-16 years?’ But I really think I’m ready to be done. We’ll see. Mentally and physically, I’m ready for it to be my last.
Q: Are you sure?
Smith: Yeah, I think I’m ready to venture off, finish my degree and then I’d like to get into coaching. We’ll see, but I’m pretty sure that I’m ready. I’d put money on me being done but I know a lot of people (wouldn’t).
Q: Bill mentioned you’d be a player-coach this season, too. How is that working out?
Smith: A lot of it is behind-the-scenes, watching and seeing how he puts together his practice plan and his thought process and the management side. It’s nice to sit in and pick his brain and see how his mind works — from the general brainstorming to the two-hour practice plan.
Q: You’ve never done that with another coach?
Smith: No. I go to the gym, get my treatment and work out. You spend most of your day in there that you’re ready to go. This is a little different and it’s the right time to do it. You evolve.
Q: How did your internship as a registered dietitian go?
Smith: It was a long, long offseason. I went to work every day and had class on top of it. I met some amazing people that are dealing with a lot more serious things that make you thankful. I know I play basketball and it’s a huge part of my life, but there are a lot of other things I care about and this is a different route that can affect people’s lives in a positive way. I just have to figure out how I want to use it.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.