Mike Smith '81

Soccer - Hall of Fame Class of 2008









Harvard Athletic Achievements

Under Head Coach George Ford, mid-fielder Mike Smith dominated play as a serious offensive threat for the Crimson. With career stats of 11 goals, 12 assists, and 34 points, with 7 goals and 7 assists coming in his senior season, Smith distinguished himself as one of the best to ever sport a Harvard Soccer uniform. He earned a first team All-Ivy selection in 1978, 1979 and 1980, making him just one of a handful of Harvard soccer players to be a three-time selection, let alone a three-time first team selection. Following his 1980 season with the Crimson, Smith was chosen as the Louis G. Williams ’64 Memorial Trophy winner given each year to a senior on the soccer team who displays exceptional athletic skill, sportsmanship and devotion to the team. After Harvard, Smith went on to play professional soccer in Denver for several years.
 

Remembering Harvard Athletics

I’m really sorry I cannot be at the Hall of Fame ceremony this year. But sorry for the best reason in the world: the arrival on April 19, 2008 of our first child, Maya Jean Smith at 3 kilograms. She’s very active (future Harvard women’s soccer player I think) and both mother and daughter are doing well. Dad is surviving.

Even after some 25 years, the memories of my Harvard soccer days have not faded at all – it was such a rich and enjoyable experience.

I arrived in Harvard Yard in 1977 with a couple of suitcases and a lot of angst. I felt pretty strange and alone and ready to get back on a plane for England. That was until a couple of weeks in when I went to the soccer try outs, met Coach George Ford, and made Varsity. Suddenly all was well in my world.  That’s what the universal game of football is all about.

Some of the phenomenal people I will always remember: Seamus Malin, who encouraged me to apply to Harvard and has been a friend ever since; Jack Riordan who was always a great encouragement and simply a really friendly guy; Chet Stone, who didn’t know much about the “round ball” games, but was always positive (well, except when you lost your Varsity jacket); and the main man, coach George Ford, a one-of-a-kind guy who loved the game, had great sense of humor (and with our team, you needed that once in a while) and died way, way too early. And of course all the guys I played with from so many countries and backgrounds: committed as players, and so diverse and interesting off the field- something that was much needed on long trips to sub-zero games in Cornell.

After Harvard, I played indoor pro soccer in Denver, ran my own soccer coaching schools around Boston, and then joined Special Olympics International, the world’s leading sports and social inclusion program for individuals with intellectual disability. I am currently finishing up 10 years as the Managing Director for Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia. But this month I switch back to my real love, when I become Managing Director for Special Olympics Global Football, a new initiative to harness the global reach and power of football to promote the values of human dignity and inclusion.

Many thanks to Harvard Soccer. And thank you so much for this wonderful honor.