On the heels of the Arizona Cardinals’ hiring of Jen Welter as their training camp linebacker coach in 2015, the Buffalo Bills announced that they hired the NFL’s first full-time female coach in the league’s history.
According to ESPNW, the Bills made history on Wednesday, Jan. 20 when they announced that Kathryn Smith will serve as the team’s special teams quality control coach. Her promotion comes after working 12 years for the New York Jets — including six seasons under Rex Ryan when he was the team’s head coach.
Smith started her career with the Jets in 2003 as a game-day/special events intern, and by 2005, she was named a collegiate scouting intern. In 2007, Smith became a player personnel assistant and seven years later, she became Ryan’s assistant, says ESPNW.
While Smith’s promotion might be making history in the NFL, the Bill’s have a history of naming a female to a higher position within the team. ESPNW says that in 1986, Linda Bogdan was appointed as the team’s first female scout after working in their player personnel department.
Bills head coach Rex Ryan spoke on Smith’s expertise in a statement released by the team, and expressed his excitement over her promotion this way:
Bills co-owner Kim Pegula said that Smith’s advancement with the team is not only groundbreaking, but also deserved. “Kathryn has been a part of [Rex Ryan’s] staff for the past seven years and has proven that she does excellent work,” Pegula said. “While we understand the significance of this announcement, it’s important to understand that Kathryn earned this position because she has shown she is qualified, dedicated and puts in the work needed for this role.”
Smith’s promotion proves that women are slowly getting the chances they deserve in the male-dominated world of professional sports.