Softball: Conant's Smith steps aside

  • Conant softball coach CathyAnn Smith, here offering encouragement from the third-base coaching box against Prospect in the 2014 season, is stepping down after 18 successful seasons with the Cougars.

      Conant softball coach CathyAnn Smith, here offering encouragement from the third-base coaching box against Prospect in the 2014 season, is stepping down after 18 successful seasons with the Cougars. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

Updated 6/7/2018 2:12 PM

An IHSA hall of fame softball coach who made Conant a power in the Mid-Suburban League is stepping down from her post after 18 seasons.

Cathyann Smith, who led the Cougars to four MSL crowns, seven regional titles and two trips to the sectional championships, made the tough decision last week.


"Stepping down was truly one of the toughest decisions for me," said Smith who was an all-area pitcher at Schaumburg High School. "I love coaching and have been blessed with great support from my former principals, Joe Schlender, Tim, Cannon and Julie Nowak along with my athletic directors Washington Bush and John Kane."

Smith was diagnosed with systemic lupus in 2011.

"It is an auto-immune disease which affects the body by attacking healthy tissue and organs because the body is confused feeling it needs to fight off infection," she said. "Symptoms range from severe joint pain, skin rashes, headaches, severe fatigue, and internal complications with the kidney, heart and digestive tract."

"Unfortunately, my body is fighting back harder and it is time for me to find more times of less stress and rest along with increased medication."

Smith was hired in 2001 when she was seven months pregnant and coached third base up until four days before she was due.

Her oldest son Garrett is a senior at South Elgin High School and her youngest, Alex, is a sophomore.

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"I feel I need to be more available to experience Garrett's senior baseball season as well as Alex's sophomore year of soccer and volleyball and just be a mom next spring," Smith said.

But she will miss coaching.

"It's in my blood," said coach Smith, whose 2011 MSL title was the program's first in 37 years. "I have been grateful to experience great coachable moments with current and former athletes. Conant softball has grown to be a strong program and I am blessed to have been a part of that.

"I know that the remaining members of the staff will work well with whomever takes the position to keep the tradition of pride going for the program."

Boys tennis

Elk Grove High School has named current assistant boys tennis coach Ashton Nisbet as the school's new boys tennis head coach.

Nisbet, a teacher at Fairview Elementary School in Mt. Prospect, finished sixth in state as a member of the Buffalo Grove tennis team and competed for the Division I Illinois State's women's team.


"Ashton has an incredible passion for the game of tennis," said Bob Murphy, Assistant Principal for Student Activities at Elk Grove. "She's done a great job as an assistant in the program for the past four years. I'm excited to watch the program develop under her leadership."

Nisbet is looking forward to taking on her new role.

"As a former player, I'm excited to share my passion for tennis and hopefully ignite that in our players," she said. "I'd like to bring more attention to the sport and increase the participation at Elk Grove. I look forward to bringing new ideas to both practice and competition and building a program that will be competitive within our conference."

Boys athletic director Terry Beyna looks forward to seeing Ashton's experience benefit her athletes

"Ashton has a great tennis background and brings familiarity with the Mid-Suburban League," Beyna said. "I am excited to see the energy and focus she will bring to our boys tennis program."

Coach Nisbet will begin to work with the program in summer camp starting next week,

"It is my hope that the team will exhibit determination, perseverance and commitment to this sport," she said. "I also hope to continue the good sportsmanship and camaraderie that is already being displayed among the other sports programs at Elk Grove."

Men's track

Hope College senior Benjamin Pederson (Prospect) earned all-regional status in both the steeplechase (9:11.07) and the 1,500 meters (3:55.25). The top five runners from each of eight regions earned all-region distinction.

Pederson also ran the steeplechase at the NCAA Division III Nationals in Lacrosse, Wis., and finished in 16th place. This was his second consecutive year running at nationals after finishing 12th in 2017.

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