In many cases playing sports gives athletes the opportunity to grow closer with their families. For Texas State University pitcher and Cooper High School alum Austin Smith, his journey to San Marcos was not always clear. Regardless of where he was, his biggest supporter was always there making his presence known.

“Usually the only person I can hear in the whole stadium was my dad. Everything else was tuned out, but I could always hear my dad say, ‘let’s go one-five,'” said Austin Smith.

Smith went to Ranger Junior College and pitched in just two games in his first season with the team before getting hurt in his second season. His injury sparked a difficult conversation with his father.

“I told my dad this on the phone one night. I was like, I have the confidence in myself that I can go back to junior college for one semester, and I can bounce back to where I want to be,” said Smith.

Smith found that home in San Marcos, where he and the team did not have a great campaign in 2021.

Early that year, Brad Smith (Austin Smith’s father) passed away. He remains with his son Austin, who had a breakout season this spring with the Bobcats while his team was on a run to the NCAA tournament.

“I know he’s still there, and when I got to do things, that I got to do for the first time ever, playing in a regional game and probably being in the coolest atmosphere I’ve ever been in. I mean, it’s hard not to think about your dad, and like, hey man, I know you’re not getting to watch this physically, but I know you’re up there just going crazy,” said Smith.

Smith recalls long car rides with his dad who would not hold back after a tough game, but those difficult moments have made way for appreciation.

“If I was not pushed, if he wouldn’t have pushed me, I don’t know if I would be where I’m at today, and enjoy where I’m at,” said Smith.

With one more year in San Marcos, Austin Smith wants to take the next step with dad watching over. Smith finished the 2022 season with a 2.91 ERA, and had 24 strikeouts in 19 appearances.