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Climbing the Coaching Ladder: Queen Smith

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Queen Smith
is in her second season as an assistant coach at Yale. The life-long New Haven resident worked as the activity director for the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) camps at Yale since 1997. She was inducted into the New Haven Tip-Off Club Hall of Fame on Nov. 13, 2007.

In addition to her work with the NYSP camps, Smith had worked with the New Haven Board of Education since 1996. Most recently, she served as the head girls volleyball and girls basketball coach at Wilbur Cross High School. She was also an assistant outdoor track coach at Wilbur Cross from 2000-05, where she worked with the sprinters and long/triple jumpers. The team won three state championships and three state open championships during her tenure.

While with the New Haven Board of Education, Smith also acted as a career specialist in the career service office. In this position, she helped students make educational/career choices and helped provide internship opportunities in students' areas of interest.

Smith has been recognized by numerous organizations for her community service involvement. In 2001, she won the Seton Elm-Ivy Award, and she received the NYSP's Silvio O. Conte Award of Excellence in 2002. Smith has also received the Secretary of State Public Service Award (2005), New Haven Network Partners in Education Award (2006) and New Haven Rotary Club Vocational Service Award (2007).

A 1996 Quinnipiac graduate, Smith (maiden name Edwards) was a three-time Northeast-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year (1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95).

What inspired you to get involved in coaching?

I would definitely say that I've truly been blessed to have had some of the best coaches throughout my athletic career, starting from middle school, throughout high school and college. It's always something that I've wanted to do, being able to have the opportunity to give back a little bit of what I've received as a student-athlete.

What was it that drew you to the Ivy League?

It was almost a natural fit for me. I worked at Yale for ten years as the activity director for the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) in the summers.

The program is no longer funded nationally, but here at Yale, NYSP is a community outreach program that provides an opportunity for boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 16 to come onto campus and participate in athletic, as well as academic activities, over the course of five weeks in the summer. It is a free program that provides transportation and food. The academic component includes an educational class, along with health and nutrition, and a math and science class.

During the academic year, I worked in the New Haven Public School System as a career counselor, as well a being a coach for ten years at Wilbur Cross High School.

Through my work with NYSP, I did a lot of the community outreach for Yale and when Chris Gobrecht was hired, I reached out to her and her staff to get on board and involved with some of the community activities. They were great, and would volunteer every year to do basketball clinics for one of our year-round programs, the NYPP basketball league. During this time, Coach Gobrecht and I developed a really good friendship, and when the position became available on her staff, she asked me to join.

What are some things that were not expected, or have taken you by surprise so far here as a coach in the League?

Given my background, I can't really say that there were things that I didn't expect coming into coaching here. Many of the things that I see now were things that I experienced as a coach and educator in the school system. If anything has stood out the most in coming to the Ivy League, it has been the three-coach staffs. Where as most schools have four paid coaches, the Ivy League only has three, with a volunteer.

Given the resources, what is something you would change with regards to your job?

I would definitely say it would be potentially having the fourth paid assistant coach, only because during the course of the year, depending on what your responsibilities are, and being so innodated with coaching, it can get tough. We did have a volunteer assistant coach last year, and we don't have one this year, so now the work that was shared with four coaches last year is now sprinkled upon three.

What are some of your goals and aspirations?

I would love to be a head coach one day, however, I definitely would like to gain more years of experience being an assistant. I think any coach's dream is to eventually have your own program, but given that this is only my second year coaching on the collegiate level, I look forward to continuing in my role as assistant with the goal of becoming a head coach one day.

Based on your experiences, what can you say to help improve opportunities for minorities in college athletic administration and coaching?

The WBCA is in the process of starting Coaches in Training, however, I also think they need to have something like that just for young people or minorities looking to get into athletic administration, as well. Something that we can do on a local level, or even among individual schools, is to start some kind of mentorship program with specific departments at other colleges and universities to work with young people to help cultivate their ideas and just get them involved. Possibly providing access to internships and things of that nature, so they're subjected to it early on and get an idea of what it's all about before actually graduating from college.

The Ivy League takes great pride in honoring February as Black History month. For all of the inspiring stories about former athletes that helped shape movements within African-American history, please check out Ivy Black History.