By Joseph Staszewski
A former St. John’s basketball manager is making history on the football field.
The Buffalo Bills named Red Storm alum Kathryn Smith, 30, the first female full-time assistant coach in NFL history Thursday. Smith, who graduated from St. John’s in 2007, is the team’s new quality control-special teams coach. The upcoming year will be Smith’s 14th year in the NFL after spending her first 12 seasons working for the New York Jets.
Smith worked with current St. John’s men’s basketball assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih as the hoops’ teammates student manager under Norm Roberts for their four undergraduate years. Adelmassih was not surprised by Smith’s success.
“We knew back then with her affiliation with the Jets and working with the Fan Fest stuff, she was really geared towards working in the NFL,” Adelmassih said. “Following her career since we graduated in 2007, it’s amazing how everything has come full circle [with her] as the first woman’s NFL coach.”
Smith began her career in 2003 as a gameday intern for the Jets. She was elevated to a college scouting intern for two years before the Jets promoted her to a player personnel assistant after graduation. In 2015, she was the Buffalo Bills’ administrative assistant to the head coach Rex Ryan, who said she has earned more responsibility and a piece of history.
“Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff,” Ryan said in a statement. “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.”
Adelmassih knows the type of person Smith is and the work ethic she showed during her time with the Red Storm.
“I am ecstatic for Kathryn to receive this opportunity,” Abdelmassih said. “She was always hardworking, goal oriented and she always wanted to be in sports in some capacity. This is a great day for women in sports. Kathryn is a pioneer.”