A dancer for most of her life, Smith hit high school, at Lo-Ellen Park, and was immediately drawn to sports. She was fascinated by the experience other girls were having as members of sports teams.
In Grade 10, Smith made the choice to quit dancing and take up as many athletics as she could. Smith played soccer, volleyball, gymnastics and track. It was flag football where Smith would find out just who she was and what she was capable of.
“I can be intense and serious on the field,” the Grade 12 student said. “I think I get a little too into it. I didn’t have that kind of intensity or competitive desire when I was dancing. It came out of me when I started playing flag football. I didn’t know I had that in me. It’s fun. I’m really competitive and I don’t think there is anything wrong with it.”
Smith, 18, made it her business to play more sports throughout high school, but flag football was her true sporting love, and the one sport to which she devoted most of her time.
This was clearly evident for everyone last season. On the first play of the first game however, Smith tore the ACL in her left knee while chasing down a loose ball. Her season, as a player, was done.
Instead of fading away from the team while she went through physiotherapy while waiting for surgery, Smith became what teammates call a “bigger part of the team.”
Smith went to every practice and game and took photographs and video of the Knights players. At the end of the season, she presented the team and coaches with a 20-minute slideshow/video of the season.
“When I got injured, I was in shock,” Smith said. “I didn’t not want to be a part of the team, so I tried to support the girls any way I could. We are a family. The coaches treat us like their own daughters. It drives me and it drives my teammates. We play for one another and I think it’s the reason we accomplish so much.”
The sentiment wasn’t lost on the Knights. They were all blown away by the slideshow/video keepsake. Teammate Clarissa Elliot has known Smith since “the first day she stumbled on the field.”
Elliot doesn’t hide her admiration for her gutsy and genuine teammate. Smith’s actions and words over the years have endeared her to her teammates. Smith is the type of competitor who would go through a wall for her team.
She proved she would endure hell — having to stand on the sidelines and watch every game last year — for her team. It has earned Smith quite a lot.
“Allison is humble and one of the best all-around players,” Elliot said.
“She has an amazing ability to keep the team together. The slideshow she made for us last year was special. It meant everything to us. We knew it was tough for her to do because she wanted to play. She has earned everyone’s respect. She is a role model. She inspired me to keep going. She is one of the best people I’ve ever met. More people should aspire to be like Allison.”
Smith had her surgery in February after dealing with the injury for nearly six months. She finished physiotherapy at the end of August and was back in action as a cornerback this fall when the Knights kicked off their 2012 season.
She played her first game on Oct. 2. Smith now competes with a knee brace. If anyone thinks it keeps her from going all-out, they better think again. Smith is just as intense and competitive as ever.
“It meant everything to be back on the field and play again. It is my last year of high school, so I wanted to play as much as I could especially after missing all of last season,” she said. “I’ll do anything to play this game.”
The Knights coaches are going to miss Smith when she graduates. It is close to impossible to replace a person with the kind of dedication, perseverance and heart Smith possesses.
Knights coach Christine Short points to Smith’s character as her best attribute. Smith showed up to practices and games, in good and bad weather, on crutches to show her support. Smith has also taken on a leadership role, helping pass on game knowledge to the next generation of Knights players.
“She is a fierce competitor although you wouldn’t think it with her big eyes and her blonde hair and sweet smile, but she can run like determination and drive. She can knock you on your butt and be the first one to make sure you were OK and offer you her hand up,” Short said.
“She is contagious, but the most important thing about her is she doesn’t seem to stick out. She is quiet and doesn’t show boat and is genuinely happy for everyone’s success. Allison really is the true definition of an athlete who stands out for her leadership, character, heart and passion for sports.”
When Smith looks back on her high school life, she has no regrets quitting dancing to play sports.
“It was a big change for me and it was a good change,” she said.