NEW LONDON, Conn. – Katherine Wenk Christoffers '45 Director of Athletics Fran Shields has announced Jackie Smith as the new head women's basketball coach at Connecticut College. She was most recently an assistant coach at George Washington University.
"We are very excited to welcome Jackie Smith into our community," said Shields. "We are confident that she can take a healthy existing program even higher given her great mentors as well as her valuable coaching and recruiting experience. It was evident throughout our process that Jackie will also place a strong emphasis on the student-athlete experience."
Smith will be serving as a head coach for the first time of her professional career after being the top assistant under her longtime mentor Jennifer Rizzotti, a UConn alum and 2013 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, for the past five seasons at Hartford and George Washington. The Colonials most notably advanced to the 2018 NCAA Tournament by winning the Atlantic 10 Conference crown and also qualified for the 2017 WNIT Tournament in her first season on the sidelines at the institution.
At George Washington, Smith served as the program's recruiting coordinator while also being heavily involved with the team's scouting, analysis and game strategy for the past two seasons. She worked directly with the guards and successfully developed two all-conference players, including the MVP of the 2018 Atlantic 10 Tournament. Furthermore, the assistant coach was the program's admissions, academic and alumni relations liaison.
Smith came to George Washington with Rizzotti after spending three years with her in the same role at Hartford, which is also her alma mater. In this position, she served as the recruiting coordinator and marketing liaison while also mentoring five all-conference players and the first-ever America East Sixth Player of the Year. In addition, she organized the program's inaugural alumni game.
Before returning to Hartford, Smith began her professional career as an assistant coach for two seasons at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. In 2012-13, the Skyhawks finished with a 24-5 overall record, including a 19-3 mark in Northeast 10 Conference action, and advanced to the regional semifinals of the NCAA Division II Tournament.
As a student-athlete, Smith was a four-year member and two-time team captain for Coach Rizzotti's Hartford squads and was instrumental in the program's success between 2007 and 2011. The Hawks won two America East Conference championships, made three NCAA Tournament appearances, and recorded a first-round victory over Syracuse in 2008. In addition, the team registered a combined 92-39 ledger, garnered its first-ever top-25 national ranking and climbed as high as 19th in the AP poll in 2010.
Smith landed on the America East All-Conference Third Team as a junior before leading the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5) and ranking third in assists (3.5 pg) during her senior season as the squad's starting point guard. She finished her career ranked second in free throw percentage (.815), sixth in 3-point field goals made (107), seventh in assists (292) and eighth in games played (122).
"I am thrilled about this opportunity, and I would like to thank Fran Shields and his committee for welcoming me to Connecticut College," said Smith. "The athletic department's pursuit of excellence, both academically and athletically, will match perfectly with my values. I am also thankful to be taking over a program which has dedicated student-athletes that have had success in the classroom and on the court, and I look forward to building upon what former head coach Brian Wilson was able to accomplish."
A native of Westfield, Massachusetts, Smith earned a bachelor's degree in elementary and special education with a minor in sociology from Hartford in 2011. She will begin her duties at Connecticut College on August 4.