Kathryn Smith made history on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 when she became the first female to be named a full-time coach in NFL history. The Buffalo Bills officially announced that Smith is the team’s new quality control coach for special teams.
Smith is no stranger to the NFL. Now entering her 14th year in the league, she previously worked 12 years for the New York Jets. Her career began as a Jets’ intern for game day/special events in 2003. By 2005, she worked as an intern in the Jets scouting department. In 2007 she was promoted to player personnel assistant. By 2014, she was named assistant to Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
When Ryan left the Jets and took over as Bills head coach in 2015, Smith moved to Buffalo and took over as the Bills’ administrative assistant to the head coach.
“Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff,” Bills head coach Rex Ryan told BuffaloBills.com. “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.”
Smith’s duties as a quality control coach include breaking down film and assisting special teams coordinator Danny Crossman and special team assistant coach Eric Smith. “Special Teams” in football refers to anything associated with the kicking game, including: kickoff returns, kickoff coverage, punt returns, punt coverage, field goals, and extra points.
The fact that Smith was named to a full-time coaching position is what makes her hiring historic. In July, 2015 Jen Walter was hired by Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians as a coaching intern during Cardinals’ training camp. Welter worked with the linebackers.
Rex Ryan said that Welter’s success helped cement his decision to promote Smith.
“I consulted with Bruce Arians on this since he was really the first NFL head coach to make this kind of move when he hired a female linebackers coach through the summer,” Ryan told Bills’ team Web site. “You can see the success some of these young ladies are having in the coaching profession, such as the young lady (Becky Hammon) that is an assistant to Coach (Gregg) Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs, and realize how exciting this is for women like Kathryn Smith as well as the Bills organization.”
Smith received a degree in sports management from St John’s University in 2007. She was the student manager for the school’s men’s basketball team.