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History-making coach inspires Park Avenue students

The first female coach in the history of the New York Jets provided words of encouragement to students at Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School in the Amityville Union Free School District on Oct. 29. Collette Smith, a coaching intern who worked with the defensive backs during the 2017 training camp, was the keynote speaker to kick off the school’s annual College and Career Week.

Ms. Smith was a professional football player with the New York Sharks in the Women’s Alliance, beginning her three-year career at 42 before coaching. She became only the third female coach in NFL history and the first African-American woman to coach. After her stint with the Jets, she founded Believe N You and serves as a motivational speaker.

During assemblies for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders, Ms. Smith encouraged students to believe in themselves and understand that they can accomplish anything they want. She told students her motto, “Making tomorrow better today,” to remind them that the steps they take now can lead them to future success. Working hard in school, treating others respectfully and making healthy choices are among those steps, she said.

Ms. Smith said that football players, just like students, have homework. They have to study their playbooks to be effective on the field.

“Her message is so important, that our students can do anything they put their minds to,” said guidance counselor Kimberly Balducci. She added that many students have a passion for sports, and this shows them that there are many career opportunities in athletics.

In addition to Ms. Smith’s speech, each assembly included a slideshow featuring graduation photos of Park Avenue teachers and administrators, to remind students of the end goal. Principal Robyn Santiago said the goal of the program was to boost self-esteem and inspire each child to be his or her own personal cheerleader.

Photo Caption:

Former New York Jets coaching intern and motivational speaker Collette Smith greeted fifth-graders at Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School on Oct. 29. They were joined by Assistant Principal Melissa Wiederhold, seated left, Principal Robyn Santiago, seated right, and guidance counselor Kimberly Balducci, standing right.


Photo courtesy of the Amityville Union Free School District


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