Cincinnati Hills League (CHL) Coach of the Year Rachael Smith not only mentors Indian Hill High School student-athletes in basketball, but is also a parent within the district. She and her husband Kyle have five children – two attending Indian Hill schools, Roman and Kade; identical twin girls preparing to attend, Remi and Rylin; and a daughter, Sade, who is a senior at The Ohio State University. We wanted to learn more about this amazing leader, so we sat down for a special Q&A.
Indian Hill School District (IHSD): First, can you tell us your history of coaching within the Indian Hill School District?
Rachael Smith (RS): My time at Indian Hill began in 2013 overseeing the basketball operations for my dad, Chris Arington, who was the varsity coach of the girls at that time. In 2014, I began coaching the Indian Hill seventh-grade girls. In my three-year tenure as the Indian Hill Middle School coach, we had two undefeated CHL seasons and won three CHL Championships. In April 2018, I was hired as the Indian Hill Girls Basketball program director and head varsity basketball coach. Since taking over the program, our team won the Cincinnati Hills League title in 2019 for the first time in seven years, won the CHL the last four years, and have had two undefeated seasons. I have had the privilege of coaching two 1000-point scorers, one of which is the all-time leading scorer in basketball program history (boys and girls), and I was unanimously voted CHL Coach of the Year for the 2021-2022 season.
IHSD: What has been your favorite part of the experience?
(RS): My favorite part of the experience has been the relationships I have built. One of my favorite nights is alumni night. It's during holiday break in December, so all of the former players can attend. It brings me so much joy as I listen to the girls recant stories to future players who gain insight, current players who can relate, and the other alumni who reminisce on all of their memories throughout the years. Our program is a sisterhood which our players will be a part of for the rest of their lives.
IHSD: What inspired you to become a coach?
(RS): Basketball has always been a big part of my family. I am the oldest of five girls, and our dad was always our coach and biggest fan. My sisters: Sarah Arington, Jessica Arington, and Samantha Arington all played for Indian Hill. I am fortunate to do what I love with those I love. It is a true family affair, with my dad currently serving as our player development coach, my sister coaching the middle school, and my youngest sister, Brooke Arington, currently playing on the varsity team. My inspiration and love of basketball stems from my dad. I was a coach’s kid and was always in the gym. I loved watching my dad play and coach. His passion for the game, desire to win, and generosity toward those he coached was and still is inspiring.
IHSD: What is your hope for your student-athletes?
(RS): The basketball program is built on a family culture. Our family culture embodies showing up for one another, believing in one another, appreciating one another, and celebrating one another. As a coach and mentor for my players, I use the platform of basketball to connect, impact, and empower young women to be the best version of themselves on and off the court. Sports are a great opportunity for students to build character, become strong leaders, and collaborate as a part of a team. After four years, my hope is that each young woman is equipped with a strong foundation and framework that allows her to be confident in who she is and continue on her journey
IHSD: What does it mean to you to be Brave?
(RS): Being Brave doesn't mean that things are not scary or hard. Being Brave is simply about having the confidence and courage to face whatever is coming at you head on. You can only be brave when there is fear. Brave people make the choice to first acknowledge their fears, fight fear with truth, and focus on the solution.
IHSD: What is your #IHPromise?
(RS): My #IHPromise is to use the game of basketball as a platform to positively impact the body, mind, and spirit of each student-athlete.
IHSD: Anything else you would like to add?
(RS): I love Indian Hill, and it is a blessing and an honor to be a part of such a wonderful community as a coach and as a parent. Go Braves!
Photo caption: Indian Hill High School Basketball Coach Rachael Smith at the debut Braves Madness event in November 2022.