Shyenne Smith: More Than A Goalie For Newberry Lacrosse

The Newberry High School Panthers’ Shyenne Smith is ranked in the top 25 lacrosse goalies in Florida with a .538 save percentage.

That ranking is all that more impressive considering she has only played

Newbery High senior lacrosse goalie Shyenne Smith. [Tabetha Smith]
for two seasons and for her determination to not let autism stop her from striving for the best. 

Thinking Differently

Smith likes singing, listening to ’90s music, playing the guitar, reading fantasy novels and, of course, playing for her teammates. With that being said, Shyenne’s autism causes her to see the world in a slightly different manner.

To hear her speak about it, her analytical mind has been of immeasurable value to her goalie career and even drew her to the sport in the first place.

“When deciding to play either lacrosse or basketball, I was watching lacrosse and I was like ‘this is interesting,’ ” Smith said. “I want to see how this works and try it out, and since then I love it. I’ve discovered that I’m really good with being fast with my hands and anticipating where the ball is coming from to catch it.”

Smith also prides herself on being vocal and communicative, a skill that makes or breaks a defense, she said. However, Smith’s lacrosse journey wasn’t always dazzling. Her support system played a valuable role in her progression. 

Guiding Hands

Smith attributes a lot of her success to NHS head coach Heather Roark and assistant coach Kendall Nettles, who took the time to understand who she is and helped her hone in on her skills.

“They always encourage me and cheer me on,” Smith said. 

Tabetha and Shyenne Smith

“Even when I make a mistake, they take the time to actually show me how to improve. I love my coaches very much.”

And, of course, her No. 1 supporter is her mother, Tabetha Smith.

“There were a lot of people in her life who didn’t believe in her, who left our lives because of her disability, but she is just such a special kid,” Tabetha said. “Even after 19 years, I still am in shock at how wonderful she is and I’m so proud of how she’s risen above and proven those people wrong.”

Learning And Growing

The lessons Smith has learned from lacrosse extend far beyond just the field. Through improving her athletic performance and having the constant support of her teammates, Smith’s confidence has skyrocketed.

“Whether we win or lose, when the game is over my teammates are all running over to me, hugging me and cheering me and that just means everything,” Smith said. “With everyone’s support I’ve learned to know that I’ve got this and how to speak up for myself.” 

 With the newfound confidence, Smith’s role on the team also shifted, adopting a more leadership position, especially when mentoring the up-and-coming goalie Addie McElroy.

“I know how to help out the coaches when they need something, how to properly help Addie warm up and get all the corners right,” Smith said. “I get to teach people what I’ve learned.” 

Question of Legacy

 If Smith has one thing she hopes to tell the world, she said, “Having a disability doesn’t stop you from being who you are. I have a disability and it doesn’t stop me from being who I am and pushing myself to be who I want to be.

“Never give up, try your best and challenge yourself. You got this, stay strong.” 

Future Aspirations 

 In the fall, Smith will attend Santa Fe College to continue her studies in criminal justice and hopes to use her problem-solving abilities to attend the FBI Academy.

Otherwise, Smith said she will support her hometown team, volunteer with elderly dogs, donate to the homeless and live by her life motto of demanding perfection.

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