Select Language

NY Jets’ first female coach on surviving rape and seeking to inspire (USA)

When Collette V. Smith was 18, she had just moved from New York City to Alabama to attend Tuskegee University.

Her mother’s family lived in nearby Georgia and she would often visit on weekends for home-cooked meals and familiar company.

During one such visit, Smith, who later made history in 2017 as the first woman to coach for the New York Jets, was raped by a close relative.

For years, this episode from her freshman year in college would define her.

Smith, who had dreamed of becoming a veterinary doctor, abandoned college. A string of bad relationships with abusive boyfriends followed. She started doing drugs and found herself in situations with guns to her head held by drug-dealing boyfriends.

As bad as the rape and its aftermath had been, what was more devastating was her family’s reaction when she finally confided in them. They simply wanted her to move on.

“I’d go to my grandma’s house and my grandmother would say, ‘Let it alone child, just leave it alone. Ain’t no good going to come from you talking about it,’ ” Smith said on a recent Tuesday, sitting in the living room of her apartment in Forest Hills, Queens. ‘You know, I went through this for years, going there for holidays and seeing my rapist at the table when they’re passing fried chicken and cornbread and collard greens. I was very confused about what is love, what is support.

“But then the way you live your life, you don’t feel valuable and you don’t feel worthy, you know?” Smith said.

That’s a feeling Smith does not want any young girl or woman to go through life with.



[shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="20890111"]

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *