BUFORD – THE ONE INSTANCE where Tyler Ann Smith cares for herself occurs when the alarm clock buzzes at 4:15 a.m.

The Buford math teacher, gymnastics coach and assistant diving coach gradually builds her energy for a long day of instructing, coaching and entering self-proclaimed “mom mode” with her three children. Smith rises early to put together her kids’ bookbags, then her favorite part of the moment follows.

She makes a protein-rich breakfast which resembles that of scrambled eggs, goat cheese, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and “copious amounts of (black) coffee,” she added. It fulfills Smith’s need to be fully awake before her little ones – Wilson, Mary Kathryn and Maverick – awake. 

Aside from these few moments of self-care, Smith serves as the ultimate giver. She takes many under her wing, treats those she interacts with as her own and puts others above herself. 

“I couldn’t function without her,” said her husband, Brad Smith, who coaches basketball at Mountain View High School. “It’s exciting to see her succeed and a joy to watch her compete with her (gymnastics) kids.”

Courtesy of Tyler Ann Smith

Buford hired Smith prior to the 2018-19 school year as she completes her sixth trip around the calendar in the green-and-gold. She has won three-consecutive gymnastics state championships to account for half of the titles in program history. Smith revived the school’s diving program along with head coach Kali Dasher. She also teaches precalculus to high school juniors. 

Smith’s latest state championship victory, crowned on April 19, held the greatest significance of any title because of the adversity Buford had to face with its large group of juniors.

“We had to fight a little bit more, and that made it sweeter,” Smith said. “It was the most stressful meet we’ve had in the three years.”

Beyond the results, Smith has influenced many dating back to her days as a cheerleading coach at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, S.C. Those in Smith’s circle shared their stories and expressed gratitude for the do-it-all mother, coach and teacher.

In honor of Mother’s Day on May 12, many of those who know Smith see her as a second mother, too. 

Courtesy of Hailey Aycock


On a random morning before class, former Buford gymnast Hailey Aycock went into Tyler Ann Smith’s classroom. 

“We’re going to try diving,” Smith told Aycock. “You guys will be good at it because of the flipping.”

“Excuse me?” Aycock essentially responded.

A week later, Smith brought the entire team to the pool. She said whoever dove in head-first would receive a cup of coffee, and Smith added that she’s “not above a little bit of a bribe.” Naturally, Aycock ended up on the diving team shortly thereafter. 

“She always had the most out-of-pocket, crazy ideas that ended up working out,” Aycock said. “There are no words for her.”

During Aycock’s high school career, she dealt with knee injury and the gruesome rehabilitation process. She had dropped the taxing element of club gymnastics, and didn’t want to continue. Smith, in her way of building a successful roster, talked Aycock into continuing the sport at a more laid-back pace. Aycock said she didn’t have the best coaches before crossing paths with Smith, and the Buford coach revived her enjoyment for the sport. 

In Aycock’s senior year, she relied heavily on Smith. She could come to her room with anything, including to know what she should eat for dinner or to receive a warm embrace. Smith became Aycock’s biggest asset when it came to college application season. Aycock didn’t know where to apply, what to study or “what to do with her life,” she said. 

Smith urged Aycock to take a look at Clemson due to the engineering program. Aycock applied to Georgia, Georgia Tech and other in-state schools, but had a hankering to try schools outside of the Peach State. Aycock enjoyed Clemson and the element of going away so much to where she eventually enrolled at Auburn. Smith helped Aycock with applications, scholarships or anything else she needed. 

“She really was a second mom to me,” Aycock said. “She helped me find a part of me that had been missing for a long time.”


Tyler Ann Smith fooled her team at the end of state championships. Junior gymnast Bellarae Newby got nervous. Her head coach normally stands close to the team when they lose, and far away when it’s a victor so she doesn’t spoil the girls’ victory celebration. This time, however, Smith stood close by when the Buford gymnasts didn’t know if they’d pulled it out in the narrow 110.250-110.025 win over North Forsyth and two other programs. 

Newby, admittedly scared, didn’t become too fond of her coach’s tricks. Nonetheless, Buford’s third-consecutive title became a testament to Newby’s gratitude for her coach. 

During her freshman year, Newby had to quit club gymnastics. She didn’t know whether she wanted to continue the sport altogether. 

“Smith asked me to be on the (high school) team,” Newby said after undergoing two surgeries for a wrist injury. “She said it’s more laid back, we don’t have to practice as hard and it’s definitely more fun.”

Newby was told she couldn’t compete on the uneven bars again. Smith, however, convinced the young gymnast to try putting on the grips after being away from it for five years. Smith coached Newby gently, and eased her back into the apparatus despite losing so many skills. This past season, which resulted in a championship, Newby competed all-around for the entire campaign for the first time in years. 

Aside from gymnastics, Smith became Newby’s mathematics superhero as she did for most of the gymnasts on the team. Newby could come into Smith’s classroom at any time. She struggled with a graphic concept prior to a test, and Smith taught Newby a week’s worth of math. 

Newby passed.

“She has definitely made me a better person,” Newby said. 


Tyler Ann Smith’s gymnastics career started late and ended early. She had a few severe ankle injuries that forced her to walk away from the sport. That doesn’t mean she can’t dabble in it from time-to-time. 

Before meets, Smith swings her way onto the uneven bars. She swirls her way around them to test and ensure they’re working properly.

“That never fails to make everyone smile,” Buford gymnastics assistant coach Kryslyn Moore said. 

Smith serves as the team’s main source of comedic relief. She catches onto her girls’ lingo, which Moore catches onto frequently. Smith’s favorite new-age words are “cooked” and “bet.”

“I’m cooked,” a student yelled during a May 1 classroom session.

“You’re cooked?” Smith replied. “OK.”

Beyond the jokes, Smith has left an imprint on Moore’s life. Smith showed her the joy she can have in gymnastics without competing. Moore has gained perspective on raising her young daughter. Moore has grown in her three years working along Smith’s side, she said.

“The big thing I’ve learned is how much passion and kindness Tyler Ann has towards others,” Moore said. 


As a young seventh grader, Peyton Raybon had to quit gymnastics and joined Tyler Ann Smith’s competitive cheerleading squad in South Carolina. 

She didn’t have a grasp on the sport’s appeal and needed to find a love for it. Smith helped her find a passion, even as a middle schooler who was able to compete on varsity due to state athletic legislation. 

All the while, Raybon struggled personally around February 2015. She had a bad group of friends, Raybon said, and her parents faced a taxing divorce. Smith helped Raybon get her life on track, offered to give rides home and provided any guidance to the young student-athlete as she navigated uncharted waters. 

“She became a mom figure in addition to being my coach,” Raybon said. “It really meant a lot to me in that time of my life.”

Smith’s humor helped, too. At a random cheerleading practice, Smith brought out a camera to record. That wasn’t the norm, and it left Raybon confused. Suddenly, Smith revealed a t-shirt that said “Preggers” in the font of the Prego tomato sauce. She gave the team a pregnancy announcement for the soon-to-be birth of her now-oldest son, Wilson. 

“In true coach Smith fashion,” Raybon said.

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