Collette Smith, 44, has made history by becoming the first woman to coach the New York Jets, and only the third to coach in NFL History, according to CBC Sports.
Smith made her debut during the team’s opening summer practice July 28. She will work as a coaching intern before assuming her role as an assistant defensive coach.
“Just talking to her over the course of time, her football knowledge is outstanding,” said head coach Todd Bowles about Smith’s hiring. “It’s all male interns so far, and I thought it would be a good idea to bring in a female intern. And that’s strictly off her skill set, not because she’s female or anything else. She’s a good football coach.”
Before her coaching career, Smith played for the New York Sharks, an all-female team within the Independent Women’s Football League. She then became the team’s coach and marketing executive after a career-ending knee injury.
She joins Jen Walter and Kathryn Smith as the only three women to ever coach in the NFL. A longtime Jets fan, Smith expressed her excitement over her new position: ““I’m over the top. I’m humbled and I’m proud,” she said in an interview with the Daily News. “This could have happened with any NFL team. But it just so happened that it was with my beloved New York Jets.”
She also acknowledged the significance of her new position, adding “We as women carry a lot on our shoulders. Right now, it happens to be football for me. This is a way for me to help empower women. Don’t dream small, play big and go for it.”