President welcomes new head coach
Livingstone College President Dr. Anthony J. Davis officially introduced the new women’s basketball head coach, Queen Smith, to the campus community Thursday during a press conference and reception.
“I’m excited, enthusiastic and encouraged,” Davis said. “Athletics on the campus of Livingstone College is very important. On our campus, they are students first. We wanted someone to come who would have the capacity to work with young women using the game of basketball to get them ready and prepared for life.”
Smith is a five-time Hall of Famer, who served as assistant coach for Yale University’s Women’s Basketball Team. She catapulted one team’s record from a 0-19 record to a 20-0 regular season within five years.
Winning is important, but Davis said it was more crucial to hire a coach who was a worker; a coach who was willing; and a coach who was a winner.
Livingstone’s women’s basketball team has made some great strides, “but we play in a competitive conference (CIAA),” he said. Livingstone needed someone willing to take on the challenge of coming to an institution that doesn’t have the resources that others have.
Davis was aware of Smith’s athletic prowess. She was a student at the high school where his mother, the late Wanda Gibbs, served as assistant principal in Connecticut. “She was a high school standout and a collegiate standout. In Division I basketball, she was a great coach and recruiter,” Davis said.
While attending his mother’s funeral last year, Davis ran into Smith at a restaurant and she informed him that she now lived in Rock Hill, S.C. When an opportunity for the head coach position at Livingstone became available, the two reconnected.
“She came to the interview with a portfolio, a PowerPoint and a plan,” Davis said. “She said, ‘I want to build on what you have.’ That is the character that we have in this leader and I’m so grateful to have her be a part of Blue Bear nation.”
In her remarks, Smith thanked a long list of mentors who had an impact on her life; Dr. Davis for the opportunity; and the Livingstone men’s basketball staff for giving her guidance.
She also thanked the Livingstone women’s basketball team. “When going through this process, I would come to games and watch them and how they interacted with others. When I stepped on campus, I would keep my door open, and they would greet me with a smile and hug. This shows me they are open and ready to accept this new challenge, not only in their life, but in mine. I’m looking forward to bringing that winning, positive culture here at Livingstone.”
“What an exciting moment,” said Andre Springs, interim athletic director. “I will never forget the first time I met Coach Smith. Something told me she had the energy and pizzazz to get things done and she could do it in a quiet way. She’s a winner.
“The largest room in the world is room for improvement. The largest nation in the world is your imagination. That’s what I see that’s getting ready to come to the table … so our student-athletes can have the best college experience,” Springs said.
Smith was joined at the reception by her husband, Dr. David Smith, a cardiologist. The couple have four children.
Meet Queen Smith
Livingstone College President Dr. Anthony J. Davis has named Queen Smith as the new head women’s basketball coach.
A native of New Haven, Conn., she was a standout tri-sport athlete competing in volleyball (All-Area), outdoor track (All-State) and basketball (All-State, All-Conference). She was a highly recruited full-scholarship athlete to play basketball at Quinnipiac College in Connecticut. During her career, she was the three-time Northeast Conference-10 Player of the Year, a feat no one else has ever accomplished in league history.
Smith became the 10th player in school history to score 1,000 points and earned an All-Star selection on the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference All-Star Team. She ended her career in the top 10 of all time in school history in scoring and top five all time in assists (476) and steals (394). To date, while remaining in the top 20 all time in scoring, she still holds those rankings.
Smith is a five-time Hall of Famer including at Quinnipiac University, the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame chosen for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
She graduated in 1996 with dual bachelor’s degrees in sociology, health and science studies.
When asked what sparked her drive, Smith said, “Let your work do the talking on the floor,” and “You can win, but you’ll never outwork me.”
Smith brought her unyielding work ethic forward to her scholastic, athletic and mentoring endeavors. She returned to her home city after college as a career specialist for the New Haven Board of Education. Concurrently, she was a head coach for women’s volleyball, head coach for basketball and assistant outdoor track coach for Wilbur Cross High School, where she was named Coach of the Year by two separate organizations.
She also ran the grant-funded National Youth Sports Program at Yale University, supervising all aspects of operations and project management. She was the activity director for nearly 10 years until tapped to be the assistant coach for the Yale Women’s Basketball Team. Her ability to attract basketball recruits, strategize and elevate the development of the backcourt guard play allowed Yale its first post-season invitation to the NIT.
Through her sustained passion and off-court skills in community leadership, Smith was called to be the community outreach coordinator for Yale women’s basketball and co-chaired the heralded Yale-New Haven Hospital/Smilow Center Pink Zone fundraising campaign. Bringing her players to work in various aspects, she raised both the city’s awareness of Yale Athletics and student-athlete’s sense of public duty. She has earned a State of Connecticut General Assembly Official Citation, a Secretary of State Public Service Award, a Partners in Education Award and an Elm Ivy Award for all her work.
Smith moved to North Carolina in 2011 and lives with her husband, Dr. David Smith Sr., and their four children. Prior to Livingstone, she worked at the prestigious Governor’s School located at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, SC, where she facilitated the Accelerate Program for exceptional STEAM students. True to her creed of using athletics to cultivate exceptional character and citizenship, she continued to volunteer as a coach in recreation leagues and served as assistant coach for two local high schools.
Over the years, she has enjoyed helping scores of students across a spectrum of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds realize their full aptitude. Her coaching technique stems from building self-value, dignity, integrity and collective duty. It was this mantra that helped her turn around one team’s 0-19 record to a 20-0 regular season win within five years.
“Queen Smith brings a breadth of experience in coaching at multiple levels and a demonstrated record of accomplishment for fostering the personal development of the student-athlete,” said Davis. “Livingstone College is fortunate to have attracted a coach of her caliber to Blue Bear nation. We are excited for her to cultivate passion, pride and purpose to our women’s basketball program.”
“I expect that consistency, honesty and accountability to self, the team and the larger community will be the backbone of the Blue Bear brand profile,” Smith said. “As such, we’ve already won the game.”