|Year of Graduation:||1988-1992|
*Induction Speech by Randy Lambert*
In 1988, women’s soccer, under the direction of Coach Jerry Litton, was introduced to the Maryville College campus. There will always be growing pain in establishing a program, but a tall, athletic, goal scorer from Kingsport, Tennessee would be the answer for turning a young program into a South region powerhouse. After a successful soccer, basketball, and track career at Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett High School, Kelly Smelser decided to follow her older brother’s footsteps and attend Maryville College. Coach Litton convinced her to play soccer and she immediately had an impact with her goal scoring ability. It was a painful first season for all the Lady Scots as they finished the year at 3-9-1, but they established the groundwork for the success to come. Kelly was chosen as the best offensive player for the season as she scored 8 goals. The best was yet to come as the 1989 season began. In the team’s second season and Kelly’s Sophomore year she once again led the team in scoring and was named the best offensive player for the second consecutive time. From her striker position she scored 19 goals in only 17 games. Kelly was known for her strong right leg and her outstanding speed. At 6’0 tall, she could out run most of her defenders and if she had to; she could get physical. Her best performance of this season was a four goal outing versus Rhodes.
As Kelly matured as a player, the Lady Scots began to develop an outstanding reputation. With the addition of several new players, the 1990 team was ready for a great year. With Kelly tallying 16 goals and 3 assists, the 1990 squad finished at 13 and 6. Expectations were optimistic for the next season.
The banner year was approaching. Coach Pepe Fernandez took over the reigns as the head coach. The 1991 Lady Scots soccer team was ranked in the top twenty in the nation. Again, behind the strong leg of Kelly, and along with teammates Molly Hewa, Julie Dingels, and Christine Neal, the women booters set school records in winning percentage and fewest losses in a season. Their 12-2-1 record included wins over Vanderbilt and national powerhouse, Methodist. Kelly set scoring records in every category and she was named the team’s most valuable player. Coach Fernandez had this to say about his leading scorer: “Kelly was a very rare player in soccer. She was a true goal scorer. Anytime we needed to put the ball in the net, we looked for Kelly. Very early in MC soccer history, she established a high standard in scoring ability that all of our players, both men and women have since pursued.” For women’s soccer, she is 2nd in all-time goals scored with 53 and 3rd in all-time points scored (a combination of goals and assists). She truly made her mark in women’s athletics at Maryville College. After graduation in 1992, Kelly worked a few years as a counselor at the Peninsula Hospital in Knoxville. She currently has moved back to the upper East Tennessee area and is a radiology student at E.T.S.U. in Johnson City. Join me in honoring a lady pioneer in women’s soccer and one of the greatest student-athletes in our history. Miss Kelly Smelser.