HOLLAND, Mich. -- Over the course of 28 seasons, Dr. Steven Smith has coached hundreds of student-athletes at Hope College. On Monday, the accomplished soccer coach expressed special gratitude to all those who have played for him — and inspired him — through the years.
Smith, 58, is retiring as head coach of the Flying Dutchmen after a distinguished three-decade career. Smith made the announcement Monday (Feb. 5) afternoon.
"So many amazing young men and support staff have entered into this program, and into my life, throughout these years. They have changed me profoundly," Smith said. "The successes we've attained can be attributed to the team. I have been proud to be a part of this program."
Although his tenure as coach has ended, Smith won’t be far away. He will continue teaching at Hope as a professor of kinesiology.
"I am very excited about the future for Hope Men’s Soccer," he said.
A nationwide search for a new coach will begin immediately, co-Athletic Director Tim Schoonveld said.
Smith concludes his time as a Hope coach with a 372-154-44 record that puts him 11th in wins among active Division III men’s soccer coaches after the 2017 season. He is in the top 50 nationally with a .691 career winning percentage.
Schoonveld applauds Smith's impact both on the field and off.
"Today we celebrate with Steven his outstanding coaching career at Hope College. Having built an excellent men’s soccer program, he leaves a tremendous legacy here," Schoonveld said. "Beyond achieving success on the field, he has transformed students' lives in ways that endure long after their graduation. We are grateful for all Steven has done for the soccer program and look forward to his great work continuing in other areas on campus. It has been an honor to work with him."
Smith became Hope's coach in 1990 after spending two seasons as an assistant coach at Manchester University (Ind.). He guided the Flying Dutchmen to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, including a 2011 trip to the national quarterfinals. He was voted the Midwest Region Coach of the Year in 1994 after his Flying Dutchmen posted a 16-2-3 record and made their first postseason appearance.
In MIAA play, Smith led Hope to nine MIAA championships and a league record of 251-92-25. He is one of three coaches in league history to achieve the 200-win milestone, joining Hardy Fuchs of Kalamazoo (254 wins from 1971 to 2002) and Marv Zuidema of Calvin (214 wins from 1970 to 1997). Among other accomplishments under his leadership, in 1996 his Flying Dutchmen became the first MIAA men’s soccer team to win three consecutive outright league championships, and in 2005, Hope won a school-record 13 games against MIAA opponents en route to a league title.
Off the field, Smith has taken Hope students to do service work at the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf in Montego Bay, Jamaica every spring break. He has been a mission trip leader for the annual project.
"Throughout my 28 years, most of my best memories have little to do with winning or losing games. Instead, they center around relationships and mutually changed lives because coaching allows us to do life together," Smith said. "I will miss this current group of players and staff more than I can describe. Their efforts to place Hope College back at the top of our league and compete at the national level is a difficult part to leave behind. I believe in the ability of this team to succeed, and I believe in the future of Hope Soccer."
Smith expressed appreciation for the support he has received over the years, including the support of associate head coach Lee Schopp, who has served as Smith’s assistant the past 24 seasons after playing for him.
"We cannot accomplish anything of value without recognizing the team as a group and all those who support us," Smith said. "Thanks must be attributed to everyone who does so much to ensure team success — from those who provide transportation and office support to those who provide athletic administration and sports information. I cannot go without mentioning the spiritual impact of men like Ed Hassenrik and Jon Brown, as they have cared so diligently for our players and for me as a coach.
"I would like to thank my wife, Nancy, and our family for their unwavering support for me during these many years," Smith continued. "Their blessing me with the ability to travel, compete and recruit over the years cannot be described in brief sentences."
Smith earned his doctorate in motor development from Michigan State University. His ongoing research focuses on performance and fitness levels in children, with an interest in encouraging healthy behaviors.