A SERVANT'S CALL
sophomore tight end Caden Smith goes where he's needed –
both on the gridiron and in missions
by Aaron Walling '11
Just before sunrise, there are no lights to be found in the small Haitian city of Thomazeau.
As Caden Smith – now a sophomore tight end on the Texas A&M football team – arrives at the Mobile Medical Disaster Relief (MMDR) site, he can only hear the crowd outside. Three hundred people have gathered throughout the night awaiting medical treatment and a ration of food.
No stranger to selfless service, Smith has traveled with MMDR (now LiveBeyond) to provide much-needed medical care for local Haitians. After the earthquake in 2010, Haiti lost much of its infrastructure and left many people homeless.
“There were no buildings. I don’t even know that you would call them shacks, but more like huts. There were cardboard huts, with people just living on the street in filth,” Smith described the scene in the impoverished nation. “People bathed and drank the same water. It was totally different than anything I had experienced.”
- Caden Smith
With so many living in poverty, basic hygiene and medical care has become a rarity in Haiti. One mission of MMDR was to provide basic health care to Haitians in need. Smith was assigned mostly to help the medical staff with the abundant cases of scabies.
Scabies, according to the World Health Organization, is a water-related disease that thrives in crowded conditions with a poor water supply. Given the living conditions, it is no shock that Haiti suffers from such an outbreak of the illness that Smith describes as a never-ending itch.
After treating the children affected by scabies and witnessing first-hand the scene in Haiti, Smith now has a new outlook on life.
“I’ve never complained about anything since,” Smith said. “There are people 90 miles off our coast that will never have this opportunity, who have never gotten to go to a great university like this, who can’t drink clean water whenever they want to, or have access to schools like this.”
Smith recalls the conversations he had with the locals about college. Anytime a college-aged person found out he went to a university, that was all they talked about, he said; they only wanted to know about college and what he learned there.
“They were super eager to learn,” Smith said. “I had always looked at it as I had to go to school, and these people were saying ‘you get to go to school.’ I had never looked at it that way.”
After the trip to Haiti, Smith was presented with another mission trip opportunity over the summer. With the approval of his coaches, Smith traveled with his hometown church, Roscoe Church of Christ, to Guatemala. While there, Smith’s group worked with a pastoral school, spreading the gospel and helping to renovate the school.
Since returning from his trips, Smith has brought the same service attitude he displayed there to the football team.
“I just try to do my part,” Smith said. “Everybody has their role, just like down there. It might be different from someone else’s but you’re always going to help each other out.”
His dedication and work ethic in practice landed him a spot on special teams this year. Smith is featured both on kickoff return and punt, and, while technically listed on the roster as a tight end, even saw action at offensive guard against SMU this year.
- TE Coach Jeff Banks
Special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Jeff Banks describes Smith as a guy who is always striving to do things right.
“He is willing to do everything, from snapping to blocking to being a defensive scout team player to being a backup offensive guard,” Banks said. “He is the kind of kid that you want to see play and be successful at Texas A&M.”
Smith’s work ethic in practice earned him solid praise from his coaches. Banks says Smith outworks everybody in everything he does. In practice, he is always paying attention to the little things. Even though Smith is tasked with multiple jobs, he is always ready to do his part.
Smith’s persistent hustle and tenacity in practice paid off in a big way this August. With an extra scholarship in hand at the start of fall camp, Head Coach Kevin Sumlin, Associate Athletic Director for Football Justin Moore and Director of Football Operations Gary Reynolds sat down to decide who should receive the award.
“He is one of the hardest working guys we have on the team,” Moore said. “He is a great student, and a great team guy. You wish you had a whole team of Caden Smiths. We couldn’t find a better guy to reward with a scholarship than Caden.”
At a school where service and sacrifice are cornerstones to its foundation, no one exemplifies that attitude better than Smith.
“His unselfishness, him being humble, and him coming out and doing whatever it takes – that is what makes him different,” Banks said.
After all his experiences, Smith says he would consider going on future mission trips, and he believes everyone should go on a mission at least once in their life. You will view the world differently when you come back, Smith says.
Smith’s consistent willingness to serve is the perfect embodiment of what the 12th Man stands for. Whether it is standing at the ready or stepping out to serve, Smith is there willing to do what it takes.
From a dilapidated small town in Haiti to the sweaty practice fields of Texas A&M football, for Smith it is not about what he can take--but how he can serve.
To find out how you can support LiveBeyond and its medical efforts in Haiti, visit www.livebeyond.org.
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