Small deviation today in recognition of Superbowl Sunday: I’m still going to highlight the career of an African American woman today, but this particular woman is not in the STEM field.
Meet Collette Smith, the first African American woman to coach an NFL team, and only the third women to coach in the NFL. In 2017, Collette took the field as the defensive back coach for the New York Jets at the age of 48. Collette didn’t even play football until she was 42, when she joined the New York Sharks, an independent women’s football league. Prior to that, Collette had been a ballet dancer. After 3 years playing as a defensive backfield as a safety, repetitive knee injuries ended her player career. Collette was then invited to coach her position for the NY Sharks, where she excelled. Collette was also appointed to be their Director of Marketing, PR, Promotions and Events, and quickly found herself being interviewed on local television discussing women in sports.
In addition to her football career, Collette also founded a non-profit, “Believe N You, Inc.”, which is focused on working with and motivating kids in low income and under-served communities. She is also an Ambassador for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and as a survivor herself, she focuses on empowering women to use their voices to make positive changes in the world.
Collette sees her role as one to “empower women. Don’t dream small, play big and go for it.”