March 5, 2012
PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
Retired St. Joseph's coach Gary Smith is honored
In a year that included another stellar performance by Red Bulls midfielder Joel Lindpere and another trip to the Women's Professional Soccer championship game by Long Island resident and Philadelphia Independence coach Paul Riley, the BigAppleSoccer.com personality of the year was won by someone who isn't in the game today.
|Gary Smith started four separate soccer programs during his 47-year career as a coach.
Photo courtesy of St. Joseph's College
St. Joseph's College men's coach Gary Smith, who retired after 47 years of directing teams in the beautiful game in November, on Monday was awarded the highest honor by the website for 2011.
Smith wasn't given the award because of his retirement, but for his entire body of work during a career that spanned nearly five decades in which he touched hundreds of players and students. He kick-started four programs at three distinct different levels -- high school, junior college and four-year college.
"Gary had a remarkable career, coaching so many players at different levels," BigAppleSoccer.com editor Michael Lewis said. "He had a tremendous impact on the lives of hundreds of players.
"Moreover, he had the the energy and the guts to start not one, not two, not three, but four soccer programs. That is quite a legacy. I could not think of a better choice than Gary to be our personality of the year. He's a remarkable man and a remarkable coach."
Let's face it. Gary Smith was the Johnny Appleseed of Long Island soccer.
"It's been quite a run to have been a part of four pretty successful programs," he said last November. "I've had the full range of experience during the years."
That experience began at East Islip High School in 1965, continued at Commack South High School in 1969, moved to Suffolk Community College West (Brentwood) in 1983 and before finally settled at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue in 1986.
In November, Smith put the finishing touches to a remarkable career, completing his St. Joseph's tenure with an appearance in the ECAC playoffs. Smith, 69, decided to step down due to health issues.