Q&A with Kim Smith: Director of Athletics inducted into North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame

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Photo credit: Kim Smith

Kim Smith, director of athletics, poses with the 2020-2021 varsity soccer team. Along with her posistion, she is also the coach of varsity scocer. “It takes effort,” Smith said. “You know, it does. But it’s so worth it because you never know the support you’ll need or the inspiration that you’ll be able to give to your teammates later on down the road.”

By Grace Doyle , Sports Editor

Kim Smith is Archer’s director of athletics as well as the head coach of varsity soccer. From playing soccer in Japan and Germany to winning a national championship in the United States, Smith said soccer has fostered “lasting friendships and connections” throughout her life.

Her team, the Raleigh Wings, won a national championship in 1998 and 1999, and are being inducted into the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame in the spring. The induction ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19. Smith took themes like, “huddle,” “inspiration” and “support” from her professional soccer experience and translated them into the athletics environment at Archer, namely making this year’s athletics theme “huddle.”

The Oracle sat down with Smith to discuss her soccer experience, time with the Raleigh Wings and recent induction into the Hall of Fame.

What is your history with soccer?

Kim Smith [KS]: I played at the University of Virginia and continued on and played in Japan in their professional league. And at the time, if you wanted to continue to play soccer, you had to go overseas. So I went and played in Japan. And then I came back, I broke my foot and then the W League started. And I tried out for the Raleigh Wings, which is the team that’s being inducted in the Hall of Fame. And so I played with them and then it led me to go play in the Bundesliga in Germany for the women’s league there. And then I came back to the U.S. and retired right before they started the official professional soccer league here.

Could you tell me a little bit more about your experience with the Raleigh Wings?

[KS]: You never know what the dividends are of your hard work. And so for me, I always play the game because I love the game. And so up until that point, I had been training to reach a higher level. So my ultimate goal is to play on the U.S. Women’s National Team. And so the Raleigh Wings team — it was their first year — and I went and I saw it as an opportunity to: continue to play, but also to play with some of the top players in the world. So for me, when I’m surrounded by better talent, I’m going to become a better player … I got to play with Carla Overbeck, who was on the 1999 World Cup championship team and Thori Staples and Zola Solamente. I got to play with these amazing players. And we got to work together towards winning this national championship. And the experience with the Raleigh Wings led me to want to continue to play, and to go and play overseas again to be able to make a living playing soccer, because that was a semi-pro team, and so you had to work and you played soccer, … because you weren’t paid anything significant. And so in order for you to receive compensation, you had to go overseas.

Focusing on the induction of the Raleigh Wings, what was that experience like?

[KS]: It just got canceled, so it has not happened yet. It got moved because of COVID. It’s such an honor to be inducted into the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame. And it was one of my favorite teams that I was a part of. We had an amazing coach and just players that helped me learn more about myself as an athlete and a person. And they helped me to really value a different level of competition, and how important that is in our growth.

Through the lens of being an advocate for women in sports, what does this recognition feel like to you?

[KS]: To be recognized as an athlete, to be recognized as a member of a team that devoted our time and our mental and physical energy towards reaching a goal — it’s just so important with women in sports and to inspire others to want to do the same. And I think this experience, all of these experiences I’ve had as a soccer player, one of the greatest takeaways is that I have these lasting friendships and connections that I continue to draw upon for inspiration and support — it’s the Raleigh wings huddle — so to speak. And, you know, it got me thinking, about our theme for this year at Archer. And that’s really where I drew our theme of huddle and using that huddle and building that huddle. So that it will continue beyond these walls.

Specifically looking at this as the Director of Athletics for Archer, how is this meaningful?

[KS]: I try to be a role model. Everything that I do, and I try to example what I want from Archer athletes and what we want from Archer athletes. And that’s to, set goals, to work towards them, to lean into support, lean into teammates, work together and embrace challenges. I think the Raleigh Wings, that was the first year that that league existed in Raleigh, and so to be able to embrace that and say, let’s run with this, let’s see how far we can go.