Federal Hocking High School senior guard Lane Smith lives for the game, whether it is the rhythm of the basketball, the energy of the crowd, the shoes squeaking on the floor, or the surge of adrenaline that comes from a great steal, move or basket.
The game remains the same, but the way that Smith experiences it changed after an accident in eighth grade. His right optic nerve was severed, leaving him blind in his right eye, but Smith was determined to get back to playing as soon as possible.
“I was never really worried that I would not play ever again,” Smith says. “I always had great people surrounding me and coaches who helped me get through and adapt.”
From the second Smith learned that he would not be able to see in his eye again, Jennifer Smith, Lane’s mother, says it did not take long for him to adopt a positive outlook.
“I think he cried for maybe 30 seconds to a minute,” Smith says. “And then he looked at his father and said ‘We’ll beat this.’ And he’s beat it. He had a great outlook from the time it happened, more than most kids ever would at that age.”
Smith does not allow his condition to be a roadblock. Instead, it motivates him to work harder. Smith’s love for basketball and his mental toughness allowed him to get back out on the court and start playing the first week he was released from ICU.
“I’ve always thought of myself as a positive guy,” Smith says. “I always look at the positive side, and even with my eye, basketball is still what I love to do, and I was not going to let anything stop me, and I have not since.”
The sport presents many challenges with how moving parts are involved, and blindness in one eye adds to the degree of difficulty. Smith had to make adjustments and retrain.
“My peripheral vision lacks a lot, of course,” Smith says. “I just have to stay on my toes and keep my head moving. I cannot keep my eye on the ball and my man at the same time, so sometimes when we’re in a zone, I have to make adjustments.”
Throughout his high school years Smith has been an integral part of a talented team.
During his sophomore year, he was a key role player off the bench for the Lancers, and helped them win their first TVC-Hocking championship in over a decade.
Smith took a more prominent role in his junior year as a starter in many games on an impressive roster for Federal Hocking.
With Smith, the Lancers had a 15-win season––good enough for second place in their conference. They also won a sectional title in the OHSAA playoffs for a second straight season.
Smith established himself as one of the most explosive athletes on his team––and in the area–– during that year. Standing at 6 feet tall, Smith is one of the few basketball players in the area who has no issues rising up to flush down a monstrous dunk with his right hand.
“It’s funny because in my freshman year I could not even touch the backboard,” Smith said. “Then I really started working on it, and sophomore year I started touching the rim and last year I could get a few in every now and then, but now I’m doing all kinds of dunks––I’m really getting up there pretty good now.”
Smith’s parents Jennifer and Jerry are proud of what their son has accomplished.
“I would not have been able to handle it the way he did,” Jennifer says. “It’s never stopped him. I honestly forget that he’s blind just because he is able to handle it so well. I forget all of the time.”
Smith has already been a key player during his time with the Lancers, and he is looking forward to stepping into the role of senior leader for the upcoming season.
“I’m super excited to get everybody back in the gym for games,” Smith says. “I can remember the game my sophomore year when we became TVC champs; we had every seat packed in the house. So, it would be great to get that back.”
Smith is in full preparation mode for the upcoming basketball season in November.
“I’m ready, and I have been ready for it with what I’ve been through to get here,” Smith says.