Kathleen Smyth
Kathleen Smyth
Year: Class of 2013
Sport: Basketball & Tennis

Kathleen Smyth was at Marin Catholic High School when Coach Dick Hart, former head basketball coach at Redwood High School, invited her to play at College of Marin. At the time, there weren’t many college-level athletic opportunities for women off of tennis courts and gymnastic mats. She had grown up playing tennis but fell in love with basketball in high school. She jumped at the chance.

“I definitely wanted to play after high school,” Smyth says. “It was a very new thing.” Hart was able to recruit strong local players and he focused on building the team but it was a while before they coalesced. “The first year was a little rough,” Smyth recalls.

The young women were committed. They played together all the time. They played before practice and after practice. They took advantage of open gyms, playing together often as the only girls in a gym.

“We were a bunch of ‘gym rat’ girls, which was unusual for the times,” Smyth said. “We worked hard.”

In 1980, her second year, the team began winning. A lot. The Marin IJ published regular features and action photos touting their victories. When she lost a contact lens in a game, the headline read: “Hanley loses lens but finds touch.”

Smyth was recruited to play basketball and tennis at Sonoma State in 1980 where she was named Most Valuable Player for basketball in the 1980-81 season and for tennis in the 1982 season. She didn’t lose a match in her senior year. She was recognized as Student Athlete of the Year for the 1980-81 school year. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education

After graduation, she worked a few years in a retail department store before going back to school for her master’s degree in Exercise Science from East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. She thought she would work in cardiac rehabilitation but ended up teaching volleyball.

In 1996, she was hired on full-time, becoming the first full-time female instructor in the Physical Education Department. She is coordinator of the Health and Physical Education Department and has focused on meeting the increasing demand for health classes, kinesiology science and distance learning.