October 11, 2011
CSUN Hall of Famer Mary Jane Smith-Waldman Falls to Cancer
Northridge, Calif. - Mary Jane Smith-Waldman, a member of the Cal State Northridge Hall of Fame, passed away on Wednesday (October 4, 2011) after a lengthy illness from cancer.
"... Her smile was always glowing, even during her toughest times," said her volleyball teammate and fellow CSUN Hall of Famer Rose Rahn. "She enjoyed her blessings, and was thankful for all she had. She battled cancer, fought like a trooper, and was always positive, no matter what."
Smith-Waldman was one of the early success stories in the history of Matador volleyball. She played two seasons at Cal State Northridge in 1974-75. During the 1975 campaign, she helped the Matadors to a 27-1 record under then head coach Linda Murphy. The Matadors, in 1975, finished third in regional competition and ranked in the Top 5 nationally. In 1974, Cal State Northridge was fifth in regional competition and also ranked in the Top 5 nationally.
"MJ was an outside hitter who spiked right and left handed," said then head coach Linda Murphy. "She was tremendously successful, putting the ball away 60 percent of the team one season. MJ played taller than her 5-foot-7 height and was one of the top players in the nation … Mary Jane was fun to be around because she saw the humor in life and was always smiling and laughing."
For her efforts, Mary Jane was an All-American, MVP and an All-League selection several times, and played at the USVBA National Championships. She also teamed up with Rahn to form a formidable duo on the pro beach volleyball circuit for many years. Mary Jane eventually got her AAA rating and played professionally.
For many years, Mary Jane was a kinesiology instructor at Cal State Northridge where she obtained her bachelors and masters degrees. Mary Jane also taught at several colleges in the Los Angeles area including Cal Lutheran.
Despite her fight against breast cancer for many years, Mary Jane retained a positive attitude. In recent years, she made a comeback and her team placed third in the 55's at the U.S. Open where she made the all-tournament team. She snow boarded and mountain biked in Mammoth, skied in Austria, played in the first women's 50's Global Cup placing third behind Germany and Russia, played on the men's 50's team that won the Surf Festival Championship, and also found time to sky dive and participate in white water rafting.
"So, you see that my life is very full," she wrote in a letter in 2010 to her IVA pro volleyball teammate Jeff Reddan. "My work is my play and my play is my work. I am very happy and love the life I live. I feel great and have never let it stop me from living life to the fullest."
In 1986, she was inducted into the Matador Hall of Fame. Mary Jane is one of five former CSUN women's volleyball players in the Matador Hall of Fame.