• Last modified 1070 days ago (Oct. 22, 2020)


Retired teacher a mainstay of bookkeeping

Staff writer

Lois Smith has been keeping book at Marion athletic events since the 1970s. The experience has given her inside knowledge of each sport, even as how statistics are recorded changed.

She uses a hard-copy stat book for basketball, but how she tracked football plays evolved over the years.

Smith started with a book in her early years, and later swapped to a Palm personal digital assistant. For the final decade of her tenure, Smith used an iPad or digital tablet.

“I loved doing it,” she said. “Especially at away games, I was right down there on the sideline close to the action. When we were home I was up in the press box because I also enjoyed seeing the whole field at one time.”

Using a tablet was the easiest method for football because there was more flexibility. Smith was able to select the play being run or drag an icon according to where the team was on the field with a tap of her finger.

Keeping stats in a book was tougher because Smith had to add yardage for each play while paying attention to the next series, and make sure she flipped the book each time the other team took possession of the ball.

“I didn’t always remember to flip the book over,” she said. “All of a sudden I look and I’m on the wrong side, on the wrong team recording information. That was kind of tough.”

While Smith’s love for numbers and sports made her happy to assist, it also was important to maintain her composure and not become distracted.

Smith still keeps stats for basketball. She prefers tracking basketball over football because there are fewer categories to keep track of, but the pace often is faster.

“The toughest part about basketball is that it does move so fast,” she said. “About the time I’m trying to record a basket, something else can happen quickly. Somebody can steal the ball and be down at the other end, and the other team now scored.”

It helps that Smith usually has the same people working alongside her at the scorer’s table.

“We all help each other and that’s what’s nice,” she said. “We have worked together so long.”

Having the same people working scoreboard, game clock, bookkeeping, and announcing also inspires confidence from referees. Officials often visit the table to go over details like new rules for the season but they already know Smith and the Marion quartet have it under control, she said.

“They recognize us and know we’ve been there,” she said. “We get lots of compliments from people on how well we work together.”

Smith’s husband stopped coaching football a few years ago, and each has been retired from teaching at least 15 years. Smith sees keeping statistics as a good way to stay involved and support Marion athletes.

“Just because we’re not teaching anymore, we didn’t lose that love for sports,” she said. “In some cases, we may as well be busy doing something while we’re there.”

Last modified Oct. 22, 2020