Collette Smith has been a Jets fan her entire life. Now, she will be one of the team’s coaches.
The Jets will name Smith, 44, as the first woman to work on the coaching staff, according to the New York Daily News. She will be a preseason intern working with New York’s defensive backs during training camp.
Smith is a member of the Independent Women’s Football League’s New York Sharks, for whom she works for as a coach and marketing executive. The Queens native played for the team for three seasons before a knee injury derailed her career.
Now, she is thrilled at the opportunity to coach her favorite NFL team.
“I’m over the top. I’m humbled and I’m proud,” Smith told the Daily News. “This could have happened with any NFL team. But it just so happened that it was with my beloved New York Jets. This is bigger because of that.”
Smith is the latest woman coach to join the NFL ranks. In 2015, the Arizona Cardinals made Jen Welter the league’s first female coach. Welter was hired by Arizona head coach Bruce Arians, a longtime mentor to Jets head coach Todd Bowles.
It is unclear if Smith will be a longtime fixture on the Jets staff, but she sees her new opportunity as “a way for me to help empower women.”
“One day a woman will come to a football team, and it won’t be a big story. It’ll just be football. When that day comes I’ll be more honored and even more proud.”