Biting the Bullet
Monto students shoot for the stars under tuition of former professional basketballer
Lanky teacher and former Brisbane Bullets forward aims to inspire next generation of shooters at Monto school
THERE’S only one place St Therese’s acting assistant principal Blair Smith would be called short, and that’s where he’s spent his career.
“I’m 6’9” but that’s short on the basketball court.
“I started my career as a centre, but I ended up a small forward.”
Mr Smith was a long way from defending 7’6” opponents last Wednesday, as he stepped back onto the court to teach his favourite sport to a St Therese’s PE class.
The former professional said there was nothing better than sharing his favourite sport with school children and watching them come to love the sport as well.
“This is probably the best class at shooting I’ve ever had,” he said.
“I love seeing the excitement on their faces when they get baskets.”
Mr Smith, who has been at the Monto school for four years, said the outdoor, country lifestyle was a welcome change of pace after his globetrotting basketball career.
“I first decided I wanted to be a basketballer when a player from the Brisbane Bullets came and did a coaching clinic at my school,” he said.
“I went home and told my dad I wanted to play for the Bullets too. “Four years later, I was.” Training every morning and every night on his backyard half court took him to multiple Queensland teams and to games in Canada with the Australian under-21s.
“I always had fun when I was playing, but you do have to be single minded and focused about what you want,” he said.
“It was a lot of fun. I was on a couple of TV commercials for the Red Cross and a drink driving campaign during that time,” he said.
He juggled a basketball career with an economics degree although by the time he retired in 2006 it was the teaching world that came calling.
His first job off-court was as a development officer for Basketball Queensland, which convinced him to study the extra year and become a teacher.
“I’ve always loved being part of a team, and teaching is the same.
“It’s just the kids that make up my team these days,” he said.