Smith to continue soccer career at Cumberlands


Harlan County High School senior Hunter Smith recently signed with the University of the Cumberlands. Pictured with Smith (second from left) at the signing ceremony are, from left, front row: Kathy Smith, John Smith and Callie Smith; back row: Cumberlands assistant coaches Elias Lankford and Aiden Butler, HCHS assistant coach James Miller and Harlan County High School Principal Kathy Napier.

As a midfielder on the first two district championship soccer teams at Harlan County High School, Hunter Smith grew to love the sport he started playing six years ago as a seventh grader at Wallins Elementary School.
With graduation only days away, Smith decided he wasn’t ready to give up the game. He will continue playing on the next level after signing recently with the University of the Cumberlands.
“I chose the University of the Cumberlands because it’s a good school. I really like the program, and I believe it can help me achieve a lot in the future.”
Smith and the Bears finished 9-7-2 last fall, defeating Knox Central and Middlesboro to win a district title before falling to North Laurel in regional competition. The Bears were 8-7-2 in 2021, defeating Middlesboro and Barbourville to win their first district championship. The Bears were the district runner-up the previous two years.
“I feel great about what we accomplished here at Harlan County. It was great to be the first team to win a district championship in soccer,” Smith said. “I definitely think the program will continue to grow after I leave. We have a lot of good players coming back. I think the team can win the district and make a run at the regional championship.”
“Hunter is a hard working kid. He studies the game and strategies to the game,” Harlan County coach Tommy Key said. “The most important thing about Hunter is he truly loves the game and it shows when he is out there playing the game. We are so very proud of him and knows he will be successful at the next level.”

Harlan County High School seniors include Hunter Smith, Braden Engle, Matthew Jones, Jacob Coots, Jonathan Akers, Connor Howard and Caydon Shanks.