Since 1987 Smart Soccer has employed hundreds of professional coaches and trainers from both the UK and the USA. I have first-hand recollection of many great coaches who had a positive impact on the development of Smart Soccer so compiling this list was no easy task.
Below is what might be referred to as the top ten ‘Hall of Fame’ list of the most memorable of all of the Smart Soccer coaches, with a brief personal recollection of the impact they had on the program. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that every coach hails from the halcyon days of Smart Soccer, primarily the late 80’s and the 90’s.
I would like to state that there are many excellent coaches who did not make this list and certainly want to acknowledge that there were many other great coaches that were part of that ‘classic’ Smart Soccer era and beyond.
Before introducing the below top ten list I should state that I modestly decided not to include myself!
Mike was an instrumental part of the Smart Soccer program for many years his enthusiastic, creative and innovative manner of coaching made him a hit with thousands of young soccer players at many different soccer communities in PA and NJ. Who knew how much kids loved being called sausages!
Fenton, Smart and Ferguson coaches during the first ever summer camp season 1988.
Legendary Smart Soccer coach Terry 'El Tel' MacDonald (second from left) in a social setting!
Terry ‘El Tel’ McDonald
For quite a few years Terry was the main Smart Soccer Director alongside Neil working six months as a professional coach in the USA and six months as a bookie in the UK. Terry played at the highest level and brought a wealth of experience to all the young players under his direction. Although a seasoned campaigner Terry was young at heart, we always said he knew the location of the fountain of youth.
My cousin, my brother, my friend sharp of wit never a dull moment with Ian around, and famous for cycling to work at the shore camps! Adored by all the kids he coached and never forgotten.
John ‘The Dog’ Reynard A great friend and the only Scotsman I’ve ever known with a Yorkshire accent. John’s no nonsense approach to coaching mirrored his playing style and the kids under his direction were all the better for it. It’s a flick from the dog and a tip of the hat to a great friend with whom I shared many brilliant memories.
The amiable Irishman (or was he Scottish?) Kevin was my right hand man for several years, I even sold him my car so he could chauffeur me around in it! Kevin also accompanied me on a very eventful UK recruitment trip and was introduced to the delights of Barrow, briefly becoming a popular figure in The Crow. However we were not very popular when we locked my parents out of their own house on New Year’s Eve! Another great ‘personality coach’ who was always very popular with the kids.
Brian St. Leger
Another amiable Irishman who actually was Irish! Brian and I spent many a Saturday morning surrounded by Yardley nippers and many a Saturday afternoon at The Continental Tavern! Brian was always a conscientious and vibrant coach, great with the kids!
John coached with Smart Soccer for quite some time in the early years, likable, dependable, softly spoken but with a very effective coaching style. The polar opposite of John in personality and coaching style but just as effective.
With a knapsack on my back! Neil was a dependable coach and camp Director, a typical Barrow lad with an inimitable coaching style that made him a magnet for the kids. I vaguely recall diving exploits in the Sea Isle City bay surrounded by campers and demonstrations on how to be an effective player without leaving the centre circle!
Where to begin with Mark! A fanatical NUFC fan with soccer camps in his blood harkening back to at least the days of NASC. Captivated the kids not just with his coaching technique but also with his ‘true stories’ told at camp breaks. One memory of Mark is him striding along the camp field at Avalon shouting loudly to a hundred kids ‘What a great day to be alive who wouldn’t want to be doing this!’ Definitely not a shy and retiring coach!
My old Carnegie mate Dom has to make this list he was the only other coach with me on the auspicious event of the first ever Smart Soccer summer camp back in 1988 held at the school where Bonnie taught, St. Albert the Great. Dom and I were the only coaches at that very first camp. The following week as I
There's only one Mark Whitfield! Shown here with Neil and Holy Child campers.
waited impatiently for him to arrive for a drive to a camp in S. Jersey, Dom turns up sunglasses on, arm causally draped over the side of a convertible. I brought him back down to earth by having him coach the five year olds that night! Some great memories of the very early days of Smart Soccer!