CARSON, Calif. — Becoming the first Black female coach in the history of the NFL was Collette Smith's biggest accomplishment, but now she says she's found her true purpose with her Believe N You Foundation.
As soon as she saw that a woman in sports was speaking to a group of students from Dominguez High School, Faith Rudolph signed up immediately. She didn't know she'd be hitting the field.
"It's fun like after all these drills, I just want to play football now," Rudolph said.
She said football and basketball are her favorite sports, but she doesn't play much anymore. Now that she's a freshman, she's decided to put all of her energy into getting good grades to pursue a career in engineering.
Rudolph just discovered her love for robotics but said she's one of only three females and the only Black teenager in her program, which is why she found Smith so inspiring.
"She believed in herself when people told her she couldn't do it," Rudolph explained.
Smith said she does it for these kids. She heard no, after no, on her journey to becoming the first Black female coach in the NFL but said she's grateful for every one of them because they led her to this field.
She flew to LA from New York ahead of the Super Bowl, bringing former NFL and womens' pro football players to teach 100 Black and brown girls 11 to 18 years old life fundamentals like finding their voices and seeing obstacles as opportunities and football drills.
"I was that little girl that was left alone, left behind," Smith said as she choked up.
Smith grew up loving the game but was always told it was a man's sport that she wasn't allowed to play. Then one day, at 42 years old, she saw a listing for pro womens' football tryouts in New York.
She made the team, which led her to become the defensive back coach for the Jets Training Camp in 2017. But now, she says she's found her true passion as the founder of the Believe' n You Foundation and giving back to the girls who need her guidance.
She told the girls her story and held workshops that empowered them to do anything they put their minds to.
"To believe in themselves," Smith added. "For them to love themselves and believe in themselves and to know that anything … anything is possible."
For Rudolph, they were the words she needed to hear. Her childhood was so rocky she doesn't like to talk about it, but she told Smith that if she could make her dreams come true, Rudolph knew she could, as well.
"I should believe in myself more," Rudolph told Smith. "That's what I want to hear! That's what I want to hear. Yes!!!" Smith replied.
For more information on Smith's Believe N You Foundation, visit its website.