Although Mel Smith’s career as a soccer player was a brief one, his active role in the game has been a long and successful one.
For the last 25 years Mel has served as president of one of New Jersey’s largest adult soccer programs – the North Jersey League.
It was a league he helped found back in the 1970’s after he had started one of New Jersey’s most successful amateur programs- the Waldwick Kickers.
Born in the Bronx, Mel played soccer one year before his high school dropped the sport and he moved over to the football team where he played for two more seasons.
Following his high school graduation, Mel joined the U.S. Navy and served during World War II on the USS RedFin in the Pacific.
Mel returned from military service and attended Utica College in New York for two years and later at Wagner College on Staten Island for two years.
It was in the Garden State that Mel Smith’s interest in soccer was resurrected and his passion for the game quickly grew.
Mel was involved in starting the Waldwick Soccer Association in Bergen County, “because my son wanted to play soccer”, he recalls fondly.
Mel served as a coach, league registrar, and eventually became president of the league. He coached Junior Soccer, and soon after started the Waldwick Kickers team in 1977.
The Waldwick Kickers team played in the Schaefer Soccer League for several seasons, but soon Bergen County Soccer officials moved 10 of their teams into the North Jersey League .
Who better to run the expansion program than Mel Smith. He was elected president of the league after two years and still remains president of the North Jersey League after 25 years.
Mel has served as registrar for the New Jersey Soccer Association and also was a member of the NJSA Executive Committee. In addition to his duties with the N.J.S.A. Mel also served on the board of directors of the Champions league, which has evolved into the premier soccer program in the Garden State.
Mel enjoys coaching the Waldwick Kickers and remaining actively involved with its alumni, many of whom are now coaching high school and college teams as well as amateur and pro teams throughout the United States as well as in England and Australia.
Today the Waldwick Kickers soccer alumni number over 400 former players around the world. They can thank Mel Smith for helping make their soccer experience possible.