Rob Smith has high expectations for the still-unnamed Chester entry in Major League Soccer.

Smith, a Coatesville native who has won four PIAA girls' championships in nine years of coaching in the Downingtown School District, officially becomes director of operations for Keystone Sports & Entertainment L.L.C., the group that owns the soccer team. A new, 32,000-seat stadium on the Delaware River is scheduled to be ready for the team when it begins play in 2010.

"I believe the new team will draw very well," said Smith, who has no plans to give up his coaching duties at Downingtown West. "I think the attraction to the sport has grown tremendously. There are a lot of passionate soccer fans throughout the area . . . people who have gotten to know the sport by playing it or watching their kids play it."

In his new position, Smith will be responsible for team and stadium operations and customer and community relations.

"It includes everything under the sun," the 1978 Coatesville grad said with a chuckle. "I'll be plugged into the community."

In addition to coaching at Downingtown West, Smith has been president of FC Delco, one of the premier club soccer programs in the area. He has coached West to a pair of state titles after winning two state championships at Downingtown before the school was split into East and West.

Smith said that if there was a conflict in the schedule with his new soccer duties and coaching at West, he wasn't worried about it.

"My [West] assistant coaches and I coach as a group," Smith noted. "If I have to miss a training session or a game, my assistants can handle it."

A taste of the future.

Although Lincoln will not be eligible to compete in the annual Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association men's and women's basketball playoffs next season, the Lions will get a taste of playing in the league. They will play a complete CIAA regular-season schedule beginning in November.

Lincoln is in the process of transitioning from Division III to Division II. The men's and women's basketball teams will each play 20-game schedules.

"This is where we want to be as a conference," said CIAA commissioner Leon Kerry. "Having Lincoln on the master schedule adds to the dream of when they will become a full member."

The Lincoln men will open the season in the Bowie State Tournament against the host Bulldogs on Nov. 14. The women will host their third annual James Richardson Tournament on Nov. 15. The Lady Lions will face Briarcliffe in their season opener.

Hewes on a row.

Kennett Square's Pierce Hewes played a key role for the Hobart novice eight, which had a banner spring in rowing.

The Statesmen novice eight, which will compete June 5-7 in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships on the Cooper River in Camden, won the Liberty League Boat of the Week honor seven times this season.

The novice eight recently won a bronze medal at the ECAC championships after finishing first at the Knecht Cup and the New York State Championships.

"This group had a great year," Hobart coach Mike Alton said. "I look forward to watching them mature over the new few years and continue to have great success as they race on the varsity level."

Contact staff writer Don Beideman

at 610-701-7613 or dbeideman@phillynews.com.