The 2021 National Champion Santa Clara University Women’s soccer team
It was a season unlike any other for Jerry Smith, women’s soccer coach at Santa Clara University for 34 years. The COVID-19 pandemic kept his team in the county bubble for four months and entered the NCAA Tournament with only seven matches. Relying on remarkable team chemistry, grit and poise under pressure, SCU captured the school’s second national title with a win over top-ranked Florida State in penalty kicks. Smith looks back at the remarkable run, including what he called his worst halftime adjustment and salutes a roster that embraced the challenge to come back from Cary, North Carolina as champions.
Jerry Smith’s Broncos Overcome Adversity to win Women’s Soccer National Title
"We chose as a group to find silver linings and find the positive in whatever thing came our way....This year, there were so many things out of our control. We chose that and not everyone chooses that and that's credit to our players. For young people, it's often hard to find a silver lining when you have a setback. It's hard to find the positive when you feel like there are things going against you. Boy, living in Santa Clara County with COVID, it felt like there's an awful lot of things going against us here."
"Maybe it was time to go. I always said 36 years in one market at one station in our business is a really good run. And I'm really okay with what we did; how we did and how we accomplished it. And if that's the end, if I don't do anything ever again other than to be a husband, a dad and a grandpa, I'm really good with that."
"It's really an opportunity for me to try and get better as a person, as a coach, as a human being and as a family member. I say it all the time. 'I'm not afraid to learn.' And so I'm using every opportunity that I can to learn something new. Everybody's on Zoom; everybody's on Facetime chats. I'm doing a lot of audio books. I'm trying to read from and hear everything I possibly can. It's a great opportunity to just grow."
"You couldn't draw up a better last home game scenario for him. He's been such a great story. Great kid. Great leadership. He didn't get a lot of minutes but is as committed as anyone on our team to working hard and us being good. It was cool. The fans were cheering for him and yelling 'Sheets! Sheets! Sheets!' and I couldn't fight 'em off any longer. So let me let his guy loose and he hits the shot. It was just incredible. It's one of my favorite moments at Saint Mary's...I'll never forget that one."
Before becoming an Academy Award winning actor, Mahershala Ali was known as Mahershala Gilmore as a college basketball player at Saint Mary's. A cassette was found with Gilmore and the Gaels playing Santa Clara on Feb. 18, 1996.
"If you're not nervous, that's a problem...Pressure is a privilege. I think that may have been Billie Jean King. And to really understand that and get after it, it's really important. And I think there's a balance, too. Of recognizing you are enough, too. And that's what Jenna Fischer talks about in her book that sometimes you don't have to be over the top--that you are enough."