The NWBA had a quick Q&A with Dr. Andrea Woodson-Smith on Black History Month and her experiences as a person of color.
Dr. Woodson-Smith is currently the Vice Chair of the NWBA's Athlete Advisory Council. To learn more about Dr. Woodson-Smith, please read her bio below.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History month means to me that people gain an opportunity to learn the truth about our pioneers and celebrate those who paved the pathway for all of us. Each year my cousin produces information about African Americans who were not mentioned or taught about in our history books. It allows African Americans to see how knowledgeable our past ancestry was so that we can continue to strive to be great.
What impact would you like to have on the younger generation of African American people?
The impact that I want to have on African American youth is for them to help someone else along the way towards their success to also become successful. It is very important that young African Americans understand how important it is to share their knowledge base with their peers so that someone else can also reach success through a shared experience. My goal is to increase the number of minorities within adapted sports whether that is for people with disabilities or those who want to provide service to people with disabilities. I want other African American females to see that it's okay to be the only one. Just start and eventually your will turn into more. Now is the time. African American females and minority females are starting to show their talent that our ancestors portrayed centuries ago.
What has your experience been as a person of color in life or in sport?
At times it was challenging. I grew up in a small town where everyone pretty much knew everyone. If you were African American, you definitely knew each other or of each other. In high school I was 1 of 3 who participated on my specific sport teams each year. Sometimes I fit in with the minority crowd and sometimes I did not. I was mostly focused on my goal of winning or of having fun depending on whether my team had a winning or losing season. My parents worked in the school system so everyone knew how we represented ourselves. It was never really uncomfortable or a problem being one of few participating on my teams.
It wasn't until I began playing adapted sports where I was either the only minority on a team or one of two African American females at a tournament and/or 1 of 5 minority females at a tournament. There have only been approximately 5 African American females, that is probably a very generous number, who participated in wheelchair basketball representing Team USA at the Paralympics. Participating in adapted sports as either the only one or one of very few was challenging. Your identity gets challenged. You are targeted by the opposing team's fans. There is an underlying assumption of how you are supposed to be as an athlete and an individual as opposed to how you actually are as a person. I'm glad to see there are more African American females participating in sports, but we still have a long way to go. I've enjoyed all of my sporting experiences and I want more African American female athletes to have the same experiences, yet better, than I.
About Dr. Andrea Woodson-Smith
She is a Full Professor at North Carolina Central University specializing in Adapted Physical Activity and Sports and Physical Education Pedagogy. She earned her PhD from Texas Woman’s University specializing in Adapted Physical Education, MS from North Carolina Central University specializing in Adapted Physical Education and a BS from James Madison University, Kinesiology where she also competed as a Division I women’s basketball athlete.
She received an invite to try out for the American Basketball League (ABL) and also tried out for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She was a volunteer assistant women’s basketball coach for Texas Woman’s University and an Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach for Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, IL, an assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach and JV volleyball coach for East Chapel Hill High School and JV volleyball coach and assistant varsity volleyball coach for Waynesboro High School.
She participated on the 2003 and 2011 ParaPan American Games, 2006 and 2010 and 2012 U.S Paralympic team. She has also participated as the Vice Chair of the Women’s Division, Chair of the Youth Development Committee of the Women’s Division, Committee member of the High Performance Committee and currently member of the ADM and High Performance Committees and serves as a Sports Envoy for the U.S. Department of State.
During her spare time she is an advocate for Colon Cancer, Children’s Cancer and equality for all girls and women in sports and a 7th grade girls Life Group Leader for New Hope Church.