NEW YORK (WABC) -- Collette V. Smith broke barriers when she became the first Black female coach in the NFL and now she's working to empower young African American women.
"When a head coach from an NFL team calls you up and says 'what are you doing this summer?' And I said, 'whatever the New York Jets need,'" Smith said.
That was the call Collette V. Smith got from New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles that not only changed her life but made history. "And he replied, great because I'd love it if you were one of my coaches," Smith said.
In the summer of 2017, Smith became the first African American female coach in the NFL and the first female coach for the Jets.
She coached the cornerbacks and safeties underneath the head defensive backs coach.
Sith drew from her experience playing the position with the women's pro football team the New York Sharks and on the block growing up in Queens Village."It got to the point where the boys didn't even want to play with me because I wouldn't let anybody score touchdowns," Smith said.
It was while talking touchdowns and shop with Bowles during a visit to a jets practice that landed her the job.
"At the end of training camp, coach Bowles comes over to me and he said, 'you've been doing a great job. We're filled to capacity with coaches now, but maybe next season,'" Smith said.
After breaking barriers in the NFL doing things that she had always been told she could never do as a woman, Smith's calling was no longer football.
"God did not give me those platforms to put in a shoebox back in my closet. They had to be used right now," Smith said.
She founded Believe N You, Inc. which creates empowering programming for African American girls across the country.
"To every little black girl that wants to do something that she thinks she's not supposed to do, well yeah you are supposed to be there. If you believe in you, it will happen," Smith said.
But don't get it twisted, she's still a Jets lifer. "The Jets need me back at this point. I should just go back and fix it," Smith said.
MORE ABC 7 UNITE
See more stories at abc7NY.com/unite
SEND STORY IDEAS TO EYEWITNESS NEWS
Watch Here & Now
We are also publishing resources in a range of areas, which will grow and can be found below:
Ways to Help
Teaching the Next Generation
Black-Owned Bookstores in New York and New Jersey
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children In A Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
American Son: Available on Netflix
If Beale Street Could Talk: Available on Hulu
Just Mercy: Available on Amazon Prime
Selma: Available on Amazon Prime
The Hate U Give: Available on Amazon Prime
When They See Us: Available on Netflix
13th: Available on Netflix
America Inside Out with Katie Couric: Available on National Geographic
Becoming: Available on Netflix
I am Not Your Negro: Available on YouTube