Youth coach 'dumbfounded' by dismissal Supporters to request Smith's reinstatement

September 17, 1997|By Gary Davidson | Gary Davidson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Matt Smith thought he had done a pretty good job in his two years as coach of the Maryland State Youth Soccer Association's Olympic Development Program for boys, especially after a summer of record accomplishments.

Last month, however, the association's board of directors unanimously endorsed new president Tim Miller's decision to replace Smith in the job, which pays $3,000 a year.

Tonight at 7, when the MSYSA holds its regular board meeting in its Millersville office, numerous supporters of Smith, led by Keith Tabatznik, who served as the ODP coach for eight years, are expected to formally request reconsideration of Smith's termination.

"I would have thought I would have gotten phone calls congratulating me for my success," said Smith, 32, the fifth-year coach at Johns Hopkins. "I thought, by far, we had the best ODP in the region [in 1997] and one of the best in the country. I'm dumbfounded."

Maryland placed an unprecedented 37 players on the six Region I age-group teams in 1997, 28 percent of the total pool that includes 13 state associations, said Tabatznik, coach at Georgetown University.

Additionally, in interstate competition, Maryland won regional titles in two age groups, finished second in two others and advanced to the semifinals in a fifth.

According to MSYSA rules, an ODP coach must be recommended by the organization's president and then ratified by the board. Miller said the vote was 15-0, with two members absent, to approve his nomination of Towson University coach Frank Olszewski to take over the program.

"We were looking for someone with an 'A' [coaching] license. I don't believe Matt has one. He did a pretty nice job, but I felt Frank Olszewski taught him a lot of stuff he learned. If you can hire the professor, it's certainly better than the pupil."

"An 'A' license has never been a criteria for being hired," Smith said. "My record should stand on its own. No athletic director in the country would want an 'A' license. They want to know if you can win and how you do it."

Said Tabatznik: "There are a lot of people baffled by this decision. There has to be a hidden agenda somewhere."

Pub Date: 9/17/97

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