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Sports Interviews With Morgan Adsit: Dunbar Football Coach Lawrence Smith

January 16, 2014

Throughout his 13 years at Dunbar High School, head football coach Lawrence Smith has won seven state titles. The Poets' 2013 season ended without a fourth straight state title, but Smith's role at Dunbar is about more than coaching, and he talked to Morgan Adsit about the work he did for students off the field.

Morgan Adsit: I would imagine not much gets past you with your players.
Lawrence Smith: Yeah (laughs), nothing really gets past me, because I can always go find someone that knows what's going on, and they usually let me know what happened without any problems. 

MA: I'm sure a majority of the people you come in contact with because of football have no idea that you're a cop.
LS: They all think football is my full-time job, especially the college coaches in here looking at my kids for school. But I let them know real quick this blue uniform is what really pays my mortgage.

MA: You always wanted to coach and develop young kids -- that goes without saying -- but how did you become a school cop for the city?
LS: I got the call from Baltimore City schools. So I went up, passed a couple of tests and got sent to the police academy. I was just so happy and lucky to be based at the school I happened to coach at.

MA: What's a typical day like for you at the school on duty?
LS: Early in the morning, we do intake -- walk the halls and things of that nature to make sure everything is OK. I check in and out of classrooms and with our officers. Then I've got cafeteria duty, and these are the places I go that I don't really have to, but I want to talk to the young guys and girls about their day. It's an 8 o'clock in the morning type job to 9 at night, every day.

MA: Is it difficult when you have to deal with the tougher side of discipline with some of your student-athletes? 
LS: I've dealt with getting up at 2 a.m. years ago and dealing with guys that were arrested. That comes with the territory. I've had a kid stabbed years ago, had a kid shot years ago. So I always tell my kids: 'I look at it like this. You can deal with me on this side and play football and go to college or deal with me on the other side.' My job is to get them out of Baltimore City and possibly to go to college, and maybe even the NFL, like we are seeing today.

MA: It's Baltimore City -- do you feel obligated more to really watch these kids and step in as a father figure?
LS: A lot of times, these outside forces of where they grew up or things that take over of what they've been taught to do. So we can just hope and pray that they make the right decisions all day and night. It's no shame that Dunbar is located in a bad neighborhood. All you can do is pray, wrap your arms around them and hope they make the right decisions.

Watch Morgan Adsit on "Sports Unlimited" on Fox 45 Baltimore, at 5:30 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekdays and at 10 p.m. weekends. Follow Morgan on Twitter: @MorganAdsit.

Issue 193: January 2014