She Was The First African American Woman To Coach In The NFL
Football is the one thing that always puts a smile on Collette V. Smith’s face. Her love and passion for the game led her to become the NFL’s first African American female coach in history and the New York Jets first female coach in their franchise history. Smith takes great pride in being a trailblazer and that she is. The New York native had a brutal upbringing but she sees football as a beacon for her hope.
“Football definitely saved my life. Being a black girl from a poor community and a rape survivor, I never valued my life because where I came from, blacks were not important. I got the structure I needed and the confidence came with it.”
Her pro football break came when she tried out for the New York Sharks, a women’s professional football team. She made the squad at the age of 42. Smith spent three years in the league before injuries forced her to retire. She stayed on to help coach the Sharks which led to the opportunity of a lifetime. The New York Jets called Smith with an invitation to join the team as a coaching intern. Smith, who grew up a Jets fan, knows her hard work paid off.
“I got the job with the Jets because of my perseverance. I didn’t make it my mission to coach with them. They called and said, ‘We like your passion, knowledge, and commitment.’ When I got there, I felt like I fit right in. And they treated me with great respect during my time in camp.”
After the Jets internship, she realized her true calling as a motivational speaker. She started her own company, Believe N You, Inc., and visits low-income communities to motivate and inspire youth, helping young girls and women to believe in themselves and never give up pursuing their dreams.
“It’s a way to look out for others and encourage them to not only dream big but to never give up and find the strength to make a difference in their own lives which will have a ripple effect with others to do the same.”
Collette V. Smith had big dreams and turned her life around while becoming an honest role model for others. She has solid advice for other young women struggling to find themselves in a world where doors are not always opened for them.
“You know you have a fire inside of you that no one should be allowed to dim. Let your light shine. No one gets to dictate who you are and what you want to be. Only you can do that. Get up and fight!”
Not only does she serve as an inspiration but lives by the words she preaches. We hope we can all be a bit more like Smith.