SANTA CLARA, Calif. – With the 4-0 win over Cal Poly on Sept. 29, Santa Clara women's head coach Jerry Smith picked up his 400th career win as a head coach with all the wins coming at Santa Clara. Smith, in his 27th season leading the Broncos, has a long list of accomplishments that includes 25 NCAA Tournament Appearances, 10 College Cup Final Fours and the 2001 National Championship.
"The first thing that comes to mind for me is how thankful I am," said Smith. "Thankful that the university and the department have supported the program so well. Thankful for the countless number of assistant coaches, players, and families that have sacrificed so much for our program. I'm also thankful for my family's support. To put in so many hours every week is hard on everybody. The breadth of support I've had here has been amazing."
Smith becomes just the third Division I women's soccer coach with 400 career victories. Anson Dorrance of North Carolina has 753 wins and Len Tsantiris of Connecticut has 508 wins. All three coaches have been at their respective institutions their entire careers.
In his 27 season, the Broncos haven't picked up wins against weak competition. In 2012 Santa Clara was No. 1 in strength of schedule and in 2013 they are No ?. This is nothing new for the Broncos as Smith tries to put together the toughest non-conference schedule possible to prepare his team for the always-competitive West Coast Conference and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Of his 400 wins, 129 have come against ranked teams.
With the team at No. 15 in the RPI after finishing non-conference play 6-3-1, Smith is focused on this season and the start of WCC action on Oct. 10, instead of on an individual accomplishment.
"I try to stay focused on the present," said Smith. "I try not to look back and I try not to look forward. I try to maximize each day, which is a really hard task. If you do that it becomes about going a day at a time, a game at a time. To be honest, I had no idea that I was close to 400 wins until I heard the announcement on the PA. This is a team sport and we're in the middle of our season. I was thankful for how well the team played in our win over Cal Poly and now we're focused on going into conference play."
Spending 27 years at the same job is something few people can say they've done. Smith knows just how special a place Santa Clara University is and all that it has meant to him.
"When you find the right place for yourself, you know it and I've never entertained the idea of leaving the university," said Smith. "I love the people, I love the culture here and I love the balanced approach we take to education here. We certainly want to win, and we've done that 400 times, but we're also graduating all of our students and making the community around us better. I'm thrilled that we lead the department in community service. That's a big emphasis for us. I love being on campus. I love that my family's here, that my son is in law school here and that Brandi is an alum. Jayden's only seven but he'll probably come here. It's been a great place for my family and for me. It's never felt like work. There are always ups and downs but I've never dreaded one day of coming to Santa Clara University. This is the perfect place for me."
What others are saying about Jerry Smith
Dan Coonan, Athletic Director (Twitter: @SCUBroncos)
"Jerry has become an institution at Santa Clara. His success has really helped put Santa Clara on the national map. While the 400 wins are truly remarkable, his legacy lies even more so in the life lessons he teaches day in and day out to each new generation to go through his program. He is a phenomenal representative of Santa Clara, and we are honored to be associated with him."
John Wojtkiewicz, Women's Rowing Head Coach (Twitter: @RowSantaClara)
"I am enormously proud of Coach Smith and his accomplishments. I constantly reference his legacy and women's soccer at Santa Clara as the standard for performance for our team."
Felipe Montoro, Cross Country/Track Head Coach (Twitter: @SCUXCTrack)
"Jerry is a teacher who focuses on all the right things. The programs consistent success and high level of play are no surprise given Jerry's leadership. Four hundred wins is a testament to the kind of person and coach he is."
Derek Mills, Men's Tennis Head Coach (Twitter: @SCUmtennis)
"What a great accomplishment for Jerry. He is a coach I greatly respect and look up to for the way he handles his program."
Lisa Mize, Softball Head Coach (Twitter: @SCUSoftball)
"Congratulations Jerry! It is a honor to have a mentor of his caliber on our campus!"
Dan O'Brien, Baseball Head Coach (Twitter: @SCU_Baseball)
"A milestone like this will have people talking about Jerry's accomplishments as a coach, but I've come to really admire his balance as a person. In addition to being one of the best in the game, he's also a great family man, a supportive colleague, and a genuinely good human being."
Cam Rast, Men's Soccer Head Coach (Twitter: @SCUBroncoSoccer)
"What a testament to the quality of his coaching and recruiting. Four hundred wins is an extraordinary milestone and we are proud that he was able to win all of those games while here at Santa Clara."
Morgan Marlborough, Women's Soccer Senior
"Jerry was one of the biggest reasons I chose Santa Clara. He has built up a strong tradition and a great soccer program. When I came out visit I could tell he focused on developing life skills in all his players. It's actually a funny story. When he picked me up from the airport on my first visit I told him my whole life story in the car. I just felt so comfortable with him."
Leslie Osborne, 2004 Honda Award Winner and Three-Time All-American
"He's the best coach I've ever had and probably will ever have. He helped to develop me into the player that was able to represent the U.S., but more importantly he helped me develop as a captain and a leader. I'm honored to have played for him and to have had him as a mentor when I went back to SCU as an assistant coach. I can't tell the program how lucky they are to have him as the coach for 400 wins. I wouldn't be where I am without him."