Even in retirement, Smartschan influences EHS Athletics

Joey Draper, Staff Writer

This previously ran in our December 2021 print issue.

Carl Smartschan has been around Emmaus High School and its athletics program for a long time. A retired science teacher and 1970 EHS graduate, Smartschan coached boys and girls basketball and has worked with Angel Network. Many people know him as the voice behind the games: he is the announcer for football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse games.

Stinger: How would you describe your time as a coach here at Emmaus for both the boys and girls teams?

Smartschan: I coached boys from 1980-1998. I was JV coach, middle school coach, and varsity coach from 1990-1998. I was the girls coach from 2009-2011 (I think 2 seasons). Being a coach here was great.

Stinger: What was it like teaching here at Emmaus without the technology of today? 

Smartschan: When I started teaching (in 1974), to make copies of handouts we used what was called a mimeograph machine. You would turn the handle on a cylinder that made one copy from a master at a time. There were no computers with printer options for sure. At Emmaus, teachers did share a TV with a VCR player, and that was big time. Also, we had the 16mm films, and the big advancement there was the advent of self-feeding film as compared to having to thread it through the machine itself! Smartboards were just coming into vogue when I retired from teaching (after 35 years in both the Allentown and East Penn School Districts) in 2009. All the present-day technology considered, I always thought the key to being a good teacher was the personal interactions with the students. That is the true key to being a good teacher.  You have to love what you are doing.

Stinger: What are some memories you have from your time as coach of the Hornets? 

Smartschan: When I took over the program as head coach in 1990, the previous year the team had won but one or two games (not sure). It took a few years to gradually build back the program and increase win totals. By the time I decided to stop being coach, we were a strong team who made the district tournament. That’s a good memory. The players I had on my teams were great, hard-working and dedicated. Being a head coach is a difficult job at a high school. The expectations are at times unrealistic, but you learn to block that outside stuff out and keep focus on your team and the upcoming game.

An interesting thing is that if you look at the banner of the 1,000-point scorers at Emmaus (boys) I was in some way involved with all of them. In high school I played with the all time leading scorer Roy (Bugsy) Stauffer. I often had to guard him at practice. During his senior year he averaged 29.9 points per game, and there was not a 3-point line. I coached some others on the banner including Mike Hallman. He was a true scorer. I was a timer or scorer for the others. What a joy to see how good all of these players were at Emmaus.

Stinger: Now since retiring from coaching and teaching, you’re still here at almost every sporting event either as PA announcer or a fan. What keeps you coming back? 

Smartschan: I enjoy it greatly. It’s a vocation, not a job. It keeps me involved and I get to see the present-day kids play and excel. What is the best is seeing old acquaintances. A few former students of mine are now coaching at Emmaus. Coach Brader (football) is a student I had when I was teaching at Dieruff High School. Sarah Oswald (soccer) and Laree Beans (field hockey) come to mind and there are others, too.  Seeing what they accomplish makes me proud. There are numerous others, but these come to mind.

Stinger: As an Emmaus graduate, what made you decide to stay close to home and eventually land coaching jobs at your alma mater?

Smartschan: There was no plan. It’s just the way that my life played out. I got a job at Harrison-Morton Jr High in Allentown in 1975 and began coaching at Emmaus in 1980 (I did coach at Harrison-Morton and at South Mountain in Allentown previous to that). Being an assistant coach at Emmaus got my ‘foot in the door’ so to speak, and I was hired to teach at Emmaus in 1988. I never had the idea that coming back to Emmaus to coach was a life goal, but it’s just the way things went. I feel fortunate–Emmaus is a really good public high school that prepares students well for their future.

Stinger: Keeping stats for the Hornets basketball team keeps you close to the sport you coached here, what do you enjoy about helping Coach Yoder during games?

Smartschan: Coach Yoder doesn’t need my help. He and his assistants do a great job. The best help I can give is being accurate with the scorebook and to keep the staff informed of foul situations, etc. I like being involved with the games and really enjoy not taking what happens during a game home with me and sleeping (or not) on it. Like I said, coaching is a difficult job. It takes a special person to do it. 

Stinger: Did you play a sport at Emmaus? If so, what was it?

Smartschan: I played basketball (I was captain during my senior year) and was on the track and field team.

Stinger: What is something you have always loved about Emmaus? Whether it be about athletics or academics?

Smartschan:  My family moved to Emmaus from Allentown when I was 6 years old. We lived a block from the high school, in part so we could walk to school. I remember fall Friday afternoons hearing the band getting ready for a football game, and of course we went to every one. When you’re a kid, you don’t really watch every play of every game, but you were there and a part of it. Emmaus was a quintessential small town in the 1960s and I always loved that.