Mako Soccer was born in 1991 as The St. Lucie County Soccer Club. The founders at that time did not like the direction that local soccer was headed. They were looking for a program that emphasized youth development in a family friendly environment. They believed that the love of the game is nurtured at an early age and must be properly developed. Game results did not matter. Making the game “Fun” was paramount. With their goals and missions in mind the founders formed the new St. Lucie County Soccer Club.
Doug Glover, Mike McFadden and Marty Horn wrote the by-laws during several months of weekend and evening meetings. Board meetings were held at The FPL building by Village Green and later moved to the Port St. Lucie City Hall. In the first year, the new club hit the ground running with 75 new players while sharing field space with other local soccer clubs. Very early in its growth cycle the new St. Lucie County Soccer Club understood that in order to build a club that will grow and prosper a “Bottoms-Up” approach needed to be followed. Small-Sided or “Micro” Soccer was the key. If the founders were able to provide an environment where children as young as four (4) years old can participate, have fun and not feel the undue pressure of game results then the rest of the program would take care of itself. Bill McClosky and Mehmet Kurgun lead the charge and were the architects of our original Micro Soccer format. Everyone involved was convinced of the advantages of Micro Soccer including the leadership from the FYSA, USYSA and USSF. This is what differentiated the fledgling club from the rest of the area affiliations. Other clubs at the time were just not interested in Micro Soccer. One of the new St.Lucie Soccer Club’s first challenges was how to provide enough field space to satisfy its ever growing membership. As other clubs lost players to this new and exciting up-start they became less and less agreeable to sharing field space. The new St. Lucie County Soccer Club understood this dilemma and quickly realized that it had to totally break away to begin its new path.
In 1993, the city advised The St. Lucie County Soccer Club that it had to change its name. Bill McClosky a girl’s coach and teacher at Port St. Lucie High School and Father Mike Sajda of John Carroll High School, both nationally licensed soccer coaches had a team of U-18 girls named The Mako Sharks. This name was then extended to the club and thus, The Mako Soccer Club found its new identity. Mehmet Kurgun developed the shark logo as we know it today and we were on our way.
Field space was still at a premium. Other play areas such as Turtle Run Park and local schools such as Bayshore Elementary were searched out for practices and games whenever possible. Children were being turned away due to lack of field space. Several locations were sought. Finally, after approval from the City of Port St. Lucie the “Makos” had a home of their own: our current McChesney Park location. Club members built the clubhouse, did the groundwork for the irrigation, purchased the goals and bleachers. The raw ground was transformed into beautiful fields worthy of the beautiful game. Consequentially the Mako Soccer Club was now up to 500 players. At the same time, the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams were starting to compete worldwide, which gave the sport a tremendous burst of interest and energy and new players were showing up in volume. The Mako Soccer Club was now on its way. The first President of the Mako Soccer Club was Doug Glover. Doug was very instrumental in seeing our club through its infancy and did most of the legwork needed to keep the new club going forward. After Doug, the following people have more than capably filled the role as club president for the Mako Soccer Club.
Doug Glover 1993 - 1994
Larry Jennings 1994 - 1997
Gary Preslar 1997 - 1999
Todd Lentz 1999 - 2002
Chris Cooper 2002 - 2003
Nick Butala 2003 – 2008
Pete DiBernardo 2008 - 2013
Grisel Cortes 2013 - Present
Other people who were vital to the start and continued success of our club that need to be mentioned as past officers, supporters and helpers are as follows:
Larry Jennings-First Treasurer
Sally Preslar-First Secretary
Vicki Kurgun-First Registrar
Mike Landrum-Club Development
Marty Horn-First Parliamentarian and founder of the Mako Scholarship program
Mehmet Kergun-First Head of Coaches.
Chris Cooper- founder of the Referee Scholarship program
Mike & Carol Walsh
Donnie & Shay Lesko
Betty & Drew Saffiotti
Everyone named above as well as many others (too numerous to name) contributed countless hours of sweat equity in the development of the Mako Soccer Club. In 2005 thanks to the City of Port St. Lucie, we doubled the size of McChesney Park. We now boast the largest membership in the area (1200 member athletes and growing). As an organization we are now seen as a major player throughout the State of Florida.
The Mako Soccer Club was, and still is built on volunteers spending days, weeks and years for the benefit of our community and children.
Mako Soccer was developed with the child in mind, to physically develop, earn confidence in one’s self, be a team player and have fun. No child should ever walk away without a smile on their face. Mako Soccer remains a friendly, family oriented organization as well as a fun place to spend a day. Enjoy!
Thank you to Marty Horn, one of our founding members, for his contributions to this article!