Who Is Kathryn Smith? The Buffalo Bills' New Coach Just Made NFL History
2014 and 2015 were big years for women in sports — men's professional sports, that is. Retired pro basketball player Becky Hammon was hired by the San Antonio Spurs to be the NBA's first full-time assistant coach, while Jennifer Welter was named the NFL's first female training camp and preseason coach in July of last year. And with Wednesday came an announcement proving 2016 would be just as groundbreaking. The Buffalo Bills named Kathryn Smith the team's new quality control/special teams coach, making her the league's first female full-time coach. So, who is Kathryn Smith, besides the latest woman to make NFL history?
Smith, who will be entering her 14th year in the NFL when she begins her new position, worked her way up from the very bottom of the NFL chain of command. In 2003, she joined the New York Jets as a game day/special events intern. Two years later, she took up a college scouting intern position with the team and, in 2007, upgraded to the title of player personnel assistant. In 2014, Smith became assistant to Jets' then-head coach Rex Ryan.
In 2015, she made the switch over to the Buffalo Bills as the team's administrative assistant to the head coach at the same time Ryan left the Jets to take over as the Bills' head. Ryan was the one to announce Smith's promotion to a full-time coaching position.
Ryan was not afraid to share the general consensus, which is that Smith really knows what she's doing. Throughout the 2015 season, Smith was seen around the practice field and was a "visible presence around the facility," ESPN reports. Additionally, all those past jobs within the league have exposed her to many of the necessary skills, including the evaluation of players and understanding strategy.
Ryan also gave a nod to the fact that Smith hasn't been the only one setting female firsts in the field of men's pro sports.
And though Smith's new job is most definitely a landmark for the sport, she wasn't the first to make women's history within the Bills organization. Linda Bogdan, whose father was former team owner Ralph Wilson, snagged the title of the NFL's first female scout back in 1986.