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Added January 25th, 2016 by Ian
NFL

Kathryn Smith becomes NFL’s first female assistant coach

The Buffalo Bills recently announced the hiring of Kathryn Smith to the NFL club’s coaching staff, which makes her the first female to hold down a full time job with the football league. The 30-year-old Smith will act as an assistant coach starting in the 2016 campaign while helping out head coach Rex Ryan. Officially, she will be the quality control coach of the club’s special teams. Smith said she’s thankful for the opportunity and said, “Maybe we’re getting more recognition, but there’s definitely a lot of women holding pretty important roles. I have an entry-level position.”

However, Smith isn’t exactly a newcomer since she already has 13 year’s worth of experience in the NFL with the New York Jets, whom she started with as an intern. Bills’ coach Ryan has been a long-time fan of Smith ever since he was hired to be the Jets’ head coach back in 2009. Ryan took Smith with him to Buffalo last season and was given a job as an administrative assistant to the franchise’s assistant coaches. She got the chance to become an assistant coach when the Bills decided they weren’t going to renew the contract of Michael Hamlin.

Smith and Ryan have worked together for the last seven NFL campaigns and he feels she is an excellent worker and has plenty of football knowledge and experience. The Bills made it clear that Smith wasn’t hired for the role just because she’s a female, but because she has earned the opportunity due to her dedication and qualifications. The hiring created quite a stir in the football community with some insiders and fans supporting Smith’s hiring and others trashing it.

Buffalo Bills’ centre Eric Wood was one of those who supported the move. He said he’s looking forward to working with Smith and is excited for her since she’s the first female to hold down such as position in the NFL. He’s also anxious to see what the new assistant coach will be able to bring to the team. The Bills currently need all the help and experience they can get as they missed the playoffs this year. Smith isn’t the first woman to be named an assistant coach on a North American professional sports team though.

Back in August of 2014, Becky Hammon, a former WNBA player, was hired as an assistant basketball coach by the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. Hammon was hired to lend a helping hand to head coach Gregg Popovich. In addition, the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter last summer for a six-week stint as a coaching intern to guide the team’s inside linebackers during training camp. Welter said she was happy for Smith and feels the doors may now be open for other females to land jobs in the NFL.

Smith’s job with the Bills will see her spending many hours breaking down practice and game films as well as doing some advance NFL scouting and helping out on the practice field. Smith said she doesn’t care what her duties entail as long as she can help the team and gain valuable experience along the way. She has always been interested in sports and managed her school’s male basketball team at St. John’s University. She attended the college between 2003 and 2007 while studying sports management.

 
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