Collette V. Smith, NFL's 1st Black female coach, now working to empower young African American women

Darla Miles Image
Thursday, February 10, 2022
NFL's first Black female coach now working to empower young women
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Darla Miles interviews Collette V. Smith, who broke barriers when she became the first Black female coach in the NFL and now she's working to empower young African American women.

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.

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