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Smith takes charge of Cougars baseball program

Jimmy Trodglen/



By Jimmy Trodglen


CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Dustin Smith has returned to a position he has some familiarity with.

Smith, who served as Clarksville Academy’s pitching coach for the past two seasons, was named the Cougars head coach Tuesday.

Smith replaces Jake Peterson, who has managed the Cougars’ baseball program for the last three seasons, and also doubles as the school’s athletics director. Peterson stepped down as head baseball coach to concentrate on the administrative side, although he will continue his association with the baseball program as an assistant to Smith.

Peterson coached Clarksville Academy to consecutive state tournament appearances and has been part of the Cougars’ baseball program for nine seasons, working as an assistant coach to Wade Smith for six seasons.

“For me, I felt like I was pulled a lot,” said Peterson, who added he didn’t feel like he could commit the time to baseball he wanted because of his AD responsibilities.

“It was something I considered the previous year, but I stayed with it,” Peterson said. “I love the program. I’ve been around it for nine years.”

Peterson is elated Smith is now running the program. Peterson and Smith’s ties go back to Austin Peay. Both played for the Govs, although Smith graduated a year before Peterson was a freshman. The two coaches have been a part of the Clarksville area high school baseball scene for the past decade.

“There’s no doubt this is a very positive move forward,” Peterson said. “I know his baseball knowledge and experience, his all-in mentality and his work ethic. He will do great things running the program.”

Smith stepped away from Northeast to spend more time with his family. But with his daughter attending Clarksville Academy, along with Peterson’s kids, Smith said the family atmosphere around the Cougars baseball program helped persuade him to take over the program.

“It’s been a great move for me (from Northeast to Clarksville Academy),” Smith said.

Smith said there were similar paths with Peterson, with both coaches playing college baseball for the Govs and their experiences as varsity baseball coaches.

Smith’s transition from assistant to coach will be easier thanks to his familiarity with the Cougars baseball program, even reaching down to the middle school program.

Clarksville Academy will return two of the city’s top pitchers next season and will build depth around an eighth-grade class already accustomed to winning before they become freshmen.

And taking over the program will be easier with Peterson staying on board.

“Jake, his baseball knowledge is outstanding,” Smith said. “I told coach Peterson that I wanted to make sure he was 100 percent certain he wanted to step down. I came over to work for him and Jake said he was 100 percent certain he felt like I was the right guy to lead.

“He has the confidence in me, he feels like I could do a good job and the next goal is to make sure I work hard to be the best coach I can be.”

Jimmy Trodglen, editor, Twitter@Tnsports360

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