Video Spotlight - Tristan Smith

LANGLEY, British Columbia - Little known fact: For the past two year, Michael “Pinball” Clemons has been masquerading through the Trinity Western campus as a student-athlete.

The former Toronto Argonauts running back and coach, turned team administrator, who never met a microphone he didn’t like, has been going to basketball practice, living the student life and now he’s got to the point where he’s the starting point guard for the men’s basketball team.

Confused? Well that’s because you likely know him as Tristan Smith.

OK, so maybe Pinball isn’t exactly a student-athlete at TWU, but, in Smith, the Spartans have a pretty close replicate.  And that’s a great thing for this  campus.

The Los Angeles, CA born Smith has the huge smile, the chatterbox persona, the love of sports and the love of God akin to that of Clemons.

You can just see Smith, in the future, giving charasmatic speeches at Athletes in Action breakfasts about his journey to, and life at, Trinity Western.

After grabbing a basketball for the first time, at the age of five, Smith immediately fell in love with the sport.
While he played a variety of sports growing up, basketball was his passion.

So, when, after high school, he moved to Tempe, Ariz. to play basketball for Arizona Sate, he thought his dream was coming true.

But for Smith, whose high school, Rolling Hills Prep, had an enrollment of 300 students, he quickly learned that the 60,000-student Arizona State was not his style.
So, after just a year in Tempe, Smith took a year off away from school.
But that didn’t last long either.

Through his dad’s connections as an overseas coach and trainer, in the fall of 2007, Smith got a scholarship to the University College of the Fraser Valley. But, after spending two years with the Cascades, he still wasn’t where he wanted to be.

“[Fraser Valley] didn’t remind me of high school and that was the greatest thing that drew me to Trinity,” Smith said. “It’s a small school. Everybody loves and supports each other so much here.”

In 2009, Smith transferred to TWU but, by CIS rules, was forced to take a year off before he was able to play. And in hindsight, and now just days after dropping 31 points against Lethbridge in only his second Canada West game sporting the blue and gold, Smith is sure his decision was wise.

“It was really humbling,” Smith said. “I had to take a year off completely healthy. “I think it helped me to reach out to my guys in different ways. It allowed me to verbalize some of the things I would like to see within the course of a game that might benefit the team.”

Since arriving at TWU, Smith, who is studying communications, has been a vocal leader every step of the way. Whether that’s in practice, in games, in Africa on the team’s 2010 summer missions trip or in teaching his teammates the Dougie dance.

“My biggest role is to contribute as a leader as one of the older guys on the team,” Smith said. “I want to set the tone and set the example for what the coach expects of us on the court.  I just want to try my hardest and try to contribute to the ultimate goal of a national championship.”

With last year’s point guard Louis Hurd now graduated, Smith has more than filled the gap .  
And he still has a whole lot of potential, as a basketball player and a Christian example.

And you can bet Clemons would more than approve of his bright-smiling, God-loving clone at TWU.

Last Updated: 2010-12-21
Author: Mark Janzen