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Women, sports, advocacy: new hire has a big job

March 22, 2019

Patrick Henry Community College is creating a new position in its athletic department to specifically address female athletes’ needs. PHCC’s new position is modeled after the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Senior Woman Administrator position. This role, which is being adopted by colleges around the nation, ensures women are well represented and their needs are addressed. At PHCC, this person will also serve as a female role model and advisor to student-athletes and will provide a female perspective to the department’s administration.

To fill the new position, PHCC has hired Kyana Smith, a Virginia native who has been the Head Athletic Trainer for SOVA Health of Martinsville since 2015. Smith received her Master’s in Sports Management in 2015 and has experience working with both college and high school athletes.

“Developing this position has been a truly unique process,” says PHCC’s Athletic Director Brian Henderson. “Kyana came to me just looking to help out in any way she could. We talked about how our ladies need a strong female leader to advocate for them and to look up to, then she took it and ran with it.”

In this new position, Smith will do a variety of jobs. From providing one-on-one career and college counseling to hosting life-skills training sessions, Smith will provide practical guidance for the college’s 160 student-athletes. As both an athletics administrator and a female, Smith also hopes to become a liaison and advocate for the female student-athletes.

From her own experience in college athletics, Smith says she knows that “…girls, frequently don’t have someone they can speak to about problems, concerns – especially if their coach is male or they feel intimidated by their coach. When girls feel like they don’t have a platform, hopefully, they can come to me.”

She says with this position, the females within the athletic department will have someone impartial and relatable who they can feel safe to come to if they face a problem.

As part of the position, Smith will also be forming the Student-Athlete Women’s Advisory Council. The council will act as another form of representation and advocacy for female student-athletes. Through the SAWAC, selected rising sophomores will be able to facilitate discussion and advocate for changes on behalf of their fellow female student-athletes.

“At the end of the day, I’m here to serve the students,” says Smith. “We want to ensure we’ve done everything we can to accommodate everyone and to give everyone equal opportunity.”

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