To be honest, Katie Smith was not the most popular choice to be Norco’s girls volleyball coach. She didn’t lack experience, but Smith wasn’t all that far removed from the program as a prep player. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita Part of the concern in hiring Smith was that she would be too much of a friend to her players. Smith’s younger sister, Camille, a sophomore, already was on the team. Inland Valley Player of the Year Samantha Arriaran said rumors started early that Smith determined everyone’s role even before tryouts. So Arriaran went to Gonzalez, who tried to assuage the team’s fears. “He (Gonzalez) said, ‘You’ve got to have faith. She’s not going to do that,’ ” Arriaran said. “And I told him, ‘Mr. Gonzalez, I’m going to trust you.’ I thank God that she came. I feel like I could talk to her about anything.” But Smith was far from easy. Smith graduated from Norco in 1999, but she returned in 2005 to lead the Cougars to new heights, the CIF-Southern Section semifinals. The results came on the heels of a fifth-place Mountain View League finish the year before, earning Smith the Inland Valley Coach of the Year honors. “I caught a lot of flak for hiring her,” Norco athletic director Ben Gonzalez said. “But I knew Katie, and that really helped. And I was very impressed with her in the first meeting.” Win or lose, there were no off days from practice. “I didn’t give them a day off, and you have to know where to draw the line,” Smith said. “I let them know that in my first year.” Smith isn’t a teacher by profession, but her job of organizing youth athletics in Pomona helped her organize the Norco program. Coming off a fifth-place finish, Norco’s regular-season schedule wasn’t the most challenging. But a five-game victory against Riverside King in the final nonleague contest before Mountain View League play began gave Smith an inkling as to what the team could do. “The last game we won 16-14 when we were down 14-12,” Smith said. “We just played with everything we had at the end. We knew that if we got down, we could pick ourselves back up.” Smith, who is working on her master’s degree, acknowledges she isn’t long for the Norco job. “I would really like to move on to the next level,” she said, “to a JC or a small four-year school.” No matter how long she lasts, she always will have 2005. “I felt great going back to my alma mater,” she said. “Having that sense of community that Norco has. Having my sister on the team was work to get used to, but it was nice to get back home.” Although it didn’t start out that way, the feeling quickly became mutual. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
A 79-year-old British Columbia man’s dead after failing to negotiate a curve while riding a motorcycle in Okanogan County Saturday.Frank M. Hurney was traveling eastbound on SR 20 21 miles east of Mazama when the incident occurred. The man, who was wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene.It’s not known if drugs or alcohol were involved. State Patrol is investigating the cause of the accident.