Debbie Smiley

Debbie Smiley, a 1991 graduate of Rushville, helped guide Brownsburg’s girls basketball team to a state finals appearance in February.

Four Indiana high school coaches will receive special awards from the Indiana Basketball Association.

Lawrenceburg boys basketball assistant coach Steve Bradley and Brownsburg girls head coach Debbie Smiley each will be recognized with a Point Guard College Transformational Coach Award as presented by the IBCA. In addition, Edinburgh boys basketball assistant Jim Higdon and Penn girls basketball assistant Hassan Abdullah will receive awards as IBCA Assistant Coaches of the Year.

This is the fifth year for the PGC Transformation Coach Awards, which are presented to coaches who have impacted the lives of their players and fellow coaches at their school and within their community. The recipients are coaches who are respected by their players and fellow coaches for their dedication, positive approach and integrity on and off the court. Point Guard College is a corporate partner of the IBCA.

This is the fourth year that the IBCA is recognizing assistant coaches with an award. The awards are going to two coaches who have contributed in a significant way to their respective schools’ athletic programs with many years of service.

These awards will be presented at the IBCA’s one-day, in-person clinic on Oct. 16 at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. The IBCA also will offer a “virtual clinic” in 2021 with video presentations by the IBCA District Coaches of the Year – six boys coaches and six girls coaches – available online beginning April 23.

Previous PGC Transformational Coach Awards have gone to Gary Cook of North Decatur in 2017; Gary West’s Chris Buggs and Switzerland County’s Adam Dennis in 2018; John Glenn’s Travis Hannah in 2019; and Columbus North’s RaNae Isaak and Speedway’s Jim Merlie in 2020.

Previous IBCA Assistant Coach of the Year honors have gone to Union County’s Roger Bowling in 2018; Jeffersonville’s Clark Miles and Crawfordsville’s Danny Pierce in 2019; and North Putnam’s Jim Brothers and Hamilton Heights’ J.R. Moffatt in 2020.

Transformational Coach: Debbie SmileyDebbie Smiley is a winner of PGC Transformational Coach Award after guiding the Brownsburg girls’ basketball team to a 17-11 season that included a Class 4A state runner-up finish. While many teams overcame adversity because of COVID-19 during this past season, Smiley’s Bulldogs faced more challenges than most but came together for a memorable postseason run.

“Debbie coached most of the season without several key components of her team,” said Brownsburg boys’ coach Steve Lynch, who nominated Smiley for the award. “Her team was without two or three starters and several key reserves until at least the middle of January.

“Still, she kept the girls together and saw steady improvements along the way. As the team began to regain players and confidence, you could tell how well they were starting to play. I thought her steady, consistent coaching really helped keep the girls steady when things were not looking good for them.”

Beyond Smiley’s on-court guidance, she also has helped her team make a difference in the Brownsburg community.

“Debbie works hard to coach the girls in her program and has involved them heavily in the community until the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lynch said. “The girls are very engaged in our community. Prior to this season, you could see how our school coaches and athletes support each other at other events around our school. Debbie always makes sure our girls are supporting other sports.”

Smiley earlier was named an IBCA District 2 Coach of the Year for 2020-21. She has directed Brownsburg to a 108-49 record in six seasons and has a 235-182 ledger in 18 seasons as a varsity coach, including 12 years at Greenwood. She served as head coach for the 2019 Indiana All-Stars and head coach of the 2018 Junior All-Stars. She also was an IBCA District 2 Coach of the Year in 2018, and she was HCC Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2021.

Smiley is a 1991 graduate of Rushville, where she played for four seasons for Hall of Fame coach Cinda Brown. She then went to Franklin College, where she played for the Grizzlies, earned a bachelor’s in biology in 1995 and added a bachelor’s in secondary education in 1997. Smiley received her master’s in education from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2002.

Smiley began her coaching career as a women’s basketball assistant at Franklin College from 1995-2001. She then assisted in the Greenwood girls’ program for two seasons before taking over as the Lady Woodmen head coach from 2003-15. She became the Brownsburg head coach in 2015.

Smiley has been a biology teacher for 24 years, and she also previously coached cross country for 20 years (18 years as a head coach) and track and field for 16 years (10 years as a head coach).

Smiley and her husband, Brian, are parents to six children: Kiera, 17; Zoe, 16; Ava, 15; Gracie, 12; Jaxon, 10; and Maximus, 6.

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