Rowland Hall is thrilled to welcome Colette Smith to Winged Lion Athletics.
Colette joined Rowland Hall in summer 2020 as head coach of the Upper School girls soccer team, taking the reins from longtime coach Bobby Kennedy (BK, to players), who now teaches physical education and coaches girls soccer at Rowland Hall’s Middle School. With her impressive resume, Colette is an ideal successor to BK, who led the Winged Lions to three State Championship victories.
“Colette brings with her a wealth of soccer background, both as a decorated player and as a successful coach,” said Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic. “She has brought on board two equally qualified assistants, Annie Hawkins and Haylee Cacciacarne. Together, this dynamite staff—full of positive energy, enthusiasm, and love of the game—is inspiring our team to a very successful 2020 season.”
To help introduce Colette to the Rowland Hall community, we asked her to play a round of 20 questions. Her answers—lightly edited for style and context—appear below.
1. Welcome to Rowland Hall! This summer you joined our community as head coach of the Upper School girls soccer team. Why did you choose to come to Rowland Hall?
I applied for the job and after the first interview knew it was a special community. I wanted to be a part of something that I believed in, both on a soccer and community level.
2. Soccer has been a major part of your life. How did you first become interested in the sport?
I have four brothers that played. My dad also played soccer, and he and I would go to the park to play. It was the best because we’d just play. He didn’t coach or expect anything. I just followed him with the ball.
3. You’re not new to coaching. You previously assisted Davis High School to three state and two national championships, and you coached the Utah Royals FC Reserves to a runner-up spot in the Women's Premier Soccer League National Championship in their inaugural season. What’s the number-one thing you’ve learned about coaching (so far)?
It’s all about the players. I genuinely care for every player and respect their needs and feedback. My job is to help them be their best. That takes us understanding each other.
4. What do you think is the best thing about coaching at the high school level?
Being with the team almost every day. We are able to implement tactics and build off each game and practice. I also enjoy getting to know the girls. It is a rather quick season, but we spend so much time together and that makes it so much fun.
The girls have learned that they can do hard things. They are sacrificing to be able to play the sport they love. I am incredibly proud of them every day.—Colette Smith, Upper School girls soccer head coach
5. In addition to coaching, you have an impressive background as a player—you played for Brigham Young University, where you captained the team to two West Coast Conference Championships and an NCAA tournament run to the Elite Eight, and you played professionally for Real Salt Lake Women and Utah Royals FC. What moment from your own athletic career are you most proud of?
I am honestly just happy I got to play the game I love competitively for so long.
6. We’ve been hearing a lot about challenges in athletics this fall due to COVID-19, but do you think there are unique opportunities or benefits to this season?
The girls have learned that they can do hard things. They are sacrificing to be able to play the sport they love. I am incredibly proud of them every day.
7. Let’s take a moment to learn a little bit more about who you are off the field. What three words would you use to describe yourself when you’re off duty?
Mom, playful, adventurer.
8. Where’s your happy place?
9. Where do you want to travel next? (You know, when air travel isn’t quite so scary.)
10. What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a busy day?
Reading books with my boys.
11. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
12. What book do you read over and over?
Atomic Habits by James Clear.
13. What was your favorite subject in high school?
14. What’s your family’s favorite thing to do on the weekend?
15. What’s one fun fact about you that you don’t often get to share?
I broke my jaw and had it wired shut.
16. Who’s your favorite soccer player of all time?
17. Is there a sport you enjoy watching or playing besides soccer?
Spikeball and pickleball.
18. Who has been one of the biggest influences in your life?
Every action you take is like a vote for the type of person you want to become.—Colette Smith
19. To wrap things up, let’s talk a bit about your goals during your first season at Rowland Hall. We know that playing sports helps young adults build important life skills. What top life skills do you want to help build in your student-athletes this season?
Confidence in themselves and empathy for others.
20. What’s one piece of advice you have learned over your career that you want your players to keep in mind this year?
Every action you take is like a vote for the type of person you want to become.
Update December 18, 2020: Kudos to Colette for winning high school regional coach of the year in our category (private/parochial – fall Northwest) from United Soccer Coaches.
Update October 26, 2020: In her first season as head coach, Colette led her team to their fourth consecutive State Championship.