In 2016-17, Mia Smith will be entering her 19th season as head women’s basketball coach at Illinois Wesleyan University.
The all-time victories leader for women’s basketball at Illinois Wesleyan, Smith led her team to the NCAA Division III championship in the 2011-12 campaign was chosen as the 2012 RUSSELL ATHLETIC/Women's Basketball Coaches Association "National Coach of the Year" for Division III and was named the 2012 Schelde North America/Women's DIII News "Coach of the Year".
In her 19 seasons, Smith has coached the Titans to a record of 364-169 (.682 winning percentage) and a 195-73 record (.727) in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin record with six conference championships (2003 and five in a row from 2008-2012). She has also coached teams into the NCAA Division III tournament seven times (2002 and six straight from 2007 to 2012) with the championship in 2012 and a fourth place national finish in 2011.
Smith has been the CCIW’s “Coach of the Year” in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2016, has been the region seven winner of the Russell Athletic/WBCA Regional Coach of the Year honor in 2009, 2010 and 2012 and was the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Division III “Coach of the Year” in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Smith earned her 300th win at home against Augustana in an 83-67 victory on Feb. 19, 2013. She became the school’s all-time win leader with a win on Jan. 20, 2007 at North Park, passing Mandy Neal (135-120 from 1989-98).
In her 16 seasons Smith has coached five All-Americans (Claire Sheehan and Christina Solari in 2009; Christina Solari; Hope Schulte in 2010; and Olivia Lett in 2012), 43 all-conference selections (including two in 2014-15) and four league “Most Outstanding Players” (Katie Cantrell, 2003; Heidi Harnisch, 2006; Christina Solari, 2009; Olivia Lett, 2012). Lett was also named as the 2012 D3hoops.com “Player of the Year."
The 2015-16 team finished the season 17-10 with an 11-3 record in the CCIW. IWU won 10 of their final 12 games in the regular season before bowing out in the second round of the CCIW tournament.
The 2014-15 team won six of their first nine games including a victory No. 9 DePauw, handing the Tigers their only regular season loss. IWU finished with a 10-15 overall record and was seventh in the CCIW with a 4-10 conference record.
The 2013-14 team won 13 of their last 16 games and finished with a 19-8 overall record and was second in the conference with a 12-2 ledger. In 2012-13, IWU was 5-4 on Dec. 16 but won 13 of their final 17 games to finish with an 18-8 record. IWU tied for second in the CCIW with a 10-3 record.
The 2011-12 national championship team started slowly, with just a 3-4 record after their first seven games. But the Titans won 25 of their last 26 to finish 28-5 overall and 13-1 in the CCIW. IWU won its final six NCAA tournament games on the road or on a neutral court.
In 2010-11 the Titans were 27-6, won the CCIW championship and finished fourth in the NCAA Division III tournament in their fifth straight postseason appearance. IWU was ranked in the top 10 nationally for nine straight weeks and were 12-4 at the Shirk Center.
The 2009-10 season saw Illinois Wesleyan go 28-2, win the CCIW title and play in the NCAA Division III tournament for the fourth straight year, advancing to the round of 16. IWU was ranked No. 1 nationally for eight weeks during the season and finished the season ranked No. 6 in both the USA Today/ESPN poll and the D3hoops.com polls.
The Titans reeled off 18 straight wins to open the season before a loss ended a 56-game regular season winning streak and also ended a string of 33 straight CCIW victories, a league record. The loss was the first in the regular season since a 68-63 loss to Millikin on Jan. 12, 2008.
The 2009-10 Titans were a sparkling 17-1 at the Shirk Center (.944).
In 2008-09, IWU posted a 30-1 record, played for the third straight year in the NCAA Division III tournament and advanced to the round of eight before being eliminated.
The Titans were ranked No. 1 for nine straight weeks in both the USA Today/ESPN poll and the D3hoops.com poll. The team was 14-0 in winning the CCIW regular season title and also captured the league’s tournament championship. The squad set school season records for wins (30), topping the mark of 26 set a year before and had a school-record 30-game win streak.
In 2007-08, IWU had a 26-3 record, played for the second straight year in the NCAA Division III tournament and enjoyed national rankings throughout the season, reaching a high of No. 5 for two straight weeks in January (USA Today/ESPN poll). The team was 13-1 in winning the CCIW regular season title and also captured the league’s tournament championship. The squad set school season records for points scored (2,467); 3-pointers made (279) and 3-pointers attempted (805); and field goals made (901). They also had a 16-game win streak.
The 2007-08 Titans also set a pair of team game records (114 points, 37 assists) in a 114-40 win over Milwaukee School of Engineering in the Cal Lutheran Tournament Dec. 29 and, on December 4, IWU (with 18) and Fontbonne (with 9) combined for 27 3-point field goals to set a Division III record. The old mark was 26, set by Cabrini (20) and Rosemount (6) in 1994 and equalled by McMurry (16) and Schreiner (10) in 2007.
In 2006-07, IWU sported a 22-6 record and played in the NCAA Division III tournament. The team set a school record for victories and also set school records for 3-pointers in a game (19 at Emory) and season (247). IWU was ranked nationally throughout the season after opening with a 10-game winning streak, including a victory over eventual national champion DePauw. IWU was ranked as high as No. 10 on Feb. 6.
Smith's 2005-06 team was 19-8 overall (10-4 CCIW) and advanced to the championship game of the CCIW postseason tournament and in 2005, IWU was beaten in the CCIW final by eventual national Division III champion Milikin.
In 2002-03, the Titans were 20-9 and 11-3 in the CCIW, winning both the regular season and tournament championships (the first in women’s basketball at IWU). The Titans also won their first-ever NCAA Division III tournament game after being 0-2 in two previous appearances. Smith was named the 2003 Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Division III co-“Coach of the Year.”
Prior to coming to IWU in 1998, Smith coached (since 1994) volleyball and softball at Division III Monmouth College (Illinois), where her volleyball teams were 55-69 in four seasons and her softball teams were 61-54.
Smith coached basketball and two other sports at Carrollton High School in west central Illinois from 1986 to 1994. Her basketball mark was 156-55 with three consecutive regional and sectional titles and she was twice named IBCA regional “Coach of the Year.” Her 1992 team finished 28-3 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class A state tournament, and her 1993 and 1994 teams both lost in the super-sectional round. In volleyball, Smith’s Carrollton teams were 127-69 with five straight regional titles and her softball teams were 97-54 with three regional championships and two league championships.
A native of Farina, Ill., and graduate of LaGrove High School, Smith earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she was a four-year letterwinner in basketball and softball. She was the basketball team captain for three seasons and earned “Defensive Player of the Year” honors four times. She was named to the 1983 Dial Classic all-tournament team. A Dean’s List student, she was an SIUE “Scholar-Athlete” and the school’s “Sportsmanship Award” winner in 1986.
Smith also teaches classes in the IWU physical education department.