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The NFL is making progress in the realm of diversity, making history in 2015 when the Arizona Cardinals hired a woman as part of their coaching staff. The New York Jets followed suit last month with the announcement that Collette Smith will join the team for the summer in a coaching role.

Smith, 44, is a lifelong fan of the Jets and current coach for the Independent Women’s Football League’s New York Sharks. A Queens, New York native, Smith is also a marketing executive for the women’s squad. Her access to the Jets’ practice field gave Smith the opportunity to become friendly with head coach Todd Bowles, who introduced the defensive backs to her. After shadowing the team, she was asked to work in an intern coaching role.

Smith, who will be working with the defensive backs, has a slight link to the NFL’s first female coaching hire, Jen Welter. Welter was hired by Coach Bowles’ mentor, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. She says she hopes that one day, the hire of a woman on the sidelines won’t be big news but is glad to be carrying the torch for women hopeful for a similar opportunity.


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