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Kathryn Smith ‘07

Alumna Kathryn Smith is the NFL’s First Female Full-Time Assistant Coach

Taking the NFL by (Red) Storm

Alumna Kathryn Smith is the NFL’s First Female Full-Time Assistant Coach

For many students, St. John’s is synonymous with sports. Whether they play on one of our 17 Division I teams, participate in intramural or recreational athletics, or cheer on the Red Storm as dedicated fans, SJU students have ample opportunity to make sports an integral part of their lives.

But for some students, athletics is more than just an activity—it’s a career. Just ask Kathryn Smith, ‘07CPS, quality control-special teams coach for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

“Growing up, I was always involved in sports and knew pretty early on that I wanted to make it a career,” she says. “When I learned about the sports management program at St. John’s it seemed like a natural fit. Then, when I visited the campus, I knew it was the right place for me.”

“I loved the fact that SJU is a big university with a large student body and lots of things going on,” she adds. “But at the same time, it has a small campus feel, with intimate class sizes and the ability to really get to know everyone. Plus, if you want to get into professional sports, New York City is a great place to be.”

Real World Experience

Ms. Smith points to the real-life sports management experience she obtained at St. John's as a key element to her current success.

“I was fortunate to learn from a great group of professors,” she explains. “Some of them were rooted in academia and theory, while others had backgrounds working in the industry. When I started interning in the sports management field, I often found myself reaching back to the practical knowledge I obtained from them to help guide me.”

To bolster her classroom learning, Ms. Smith gained real-world experience while at SJU by working as a student manager for the Red Storm men’s basketball team.

“I’ve always felt strongly about the team aspect of sports, even when working on the sidelines,” she says. “It was so cool to be part of a team with such a storied tradition.”

Additional hands-on experience came in the form of two internships: one in the scouting department of the NY Jets, where she analyzed scouting statistics and helped the team’s scouts get ready for summer training, and the other in the business office of the SUNY Maritime athletics department, where she made travel arrangements for the football team and supervised the renovation of the team room, among other tasks.

“My internships, combined with my classroom education, gave me a huge head start when I launched my career,” she concludes. “I’ve always been able to hit the ground running on the first day. Even being a woman in a male-dominated field has been no big deal because I’ve been well prepared and have proven I can do the job.”

Photo credit: Buffalo Bills