Women's basketball coach Sharon Versyp couldn't help but laugh at her new assistant's awkwardness when she met her 18 years ago.
Versyp announced on Thursday that Christy Smith, a player she helped get over clumsy footwork while at Benton Central High School, is her newest assistant coach.
While in high school, Smith went into her senior year scoring only eight to 10 points per game. She scored most of her points around the basket and couldn't set her feet properly to hit a jumpshot. When Versyp pulled Smith aside to work with her, laughter broke through despite Versyp's best efforts to remain serious.
"I just looked so ridiculous at what I was trying to do," Smith said. "It was like watching a little kid trying to learn a skill."
Versyp's individual work with Smith paid off. Smith averaged 22 points per game her senior year and went on to play at Arkansas, where she led her team to the Final Four. Now, Smith hopes to return the favor.
"Whatever she wants me to do, I'll take care of," she said.
Smith will be working with the guards this season and is excited about having two great ones to coach: KK Houser and Courtney Moses. She hopes to become a resource for the players she coaches both on and off the court.
"I hope that I'll be someone that the kids really can trust - that they can come to when they have problems," she said.
Smith was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Valparaiso University before coming to Purdue. Valparaiso's head coach, Keith Freeman, said Smith was very close with the players when she worked with him.
"Players gravitate toward her because she's experienced a lot of life lessons," he said. "I think she has enough experiences to really help people in their lives - not just basketball players but people."
Freeman said Smith was a vital asset at VU, but he's proud to see her move on to Purdue.
"I'm disappointed for us, but I'm happy for her," he said.