Breaking Barriers In The NFL: Kathryn Smith Becomes First Female Full-Time Assistant Coach

Kathryn Smith Coach makes history


Jan. 22 2016, Published 9:26 a.m. ET

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It was just two years ago when Becky Hammon made history and headlines as the first full-time female coach in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs. Now, following in the footsteps of the NBA, the NFL is embracing the feminine touch as part of its leadership and coaching staff.

It was announced on Wednesday night that The Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith as a special teams quality control coach. Formerly an administrative assistant to head coach Rex Ryan, Smith is breaking barriers as the first full-time female assistant in NFL history. Jen Welter served as a training camp assistant for the Arizona Cardinals during training camp, but her position was only temporary.

Smith, no stranger to the game of football or to coach Ryan, worked as an administrative assistant during his first year of coaching the Bills in 2014, as well as prior to that when both were a part of the New York Jets organization. Smith was a player personnel assistant with the Jets for seven years. She also worked for the team as an intern.

In a statement provided by the Buffalo Bills, Coach Ryan praised Smith’s knowledge and commitment to the game.

“Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff,” said Ryan. “She certainly deserves this promotion based on her knowledge and strong commitment, just to name a couple of her outstanding qualities, and I just know she’s going to do a great job serving in the role of Quality Control-Special Teams.”

In other women in football news, Jane Skinner Goodell, wife of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, announced that she will be a part of a women’s sports summit being hosted by the NFL during the week of Super Bowl 50. The two day NFL Women’s Summit will be held Feb. 4-5 in downtown San Francisco.

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The former Fox News anchor will host a panel titled “Media, Entertainment and Sports as a Platform.” Other notable women in sports that will be participating in the summit are: Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, Annika Sorenstam and Jessica Mendoza.

Goodell, a big advocate for the NFL, expressed her thoughts to USA Today about the league, what it’s done for women, and the possible effects of the summit.

“You can look back to see what the league has done,” Goodell said. “It has been promoting girls’ sports for a really long time, Play 60 for girls. We’ve had a great platform for women for a long time. (Breast cancer awareness) set the precedent for other sports leagues and other organizations, they were out there and it’s gotten incredible exposure and done a lot of terrific things. If you think about it, 45% of the fan base of the NFL is women, that’s growing, so it kind of makes sense to me. It’s an opportunity for the league to listen to what their fans want, to focus more on women.”

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