Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rashan Ali Smith Interview

If you aren't in Atlanta you probably can't totally grasp who and what Rashan Ali Smith is to the community. She's the perfect role model for any woman, young or old in Atlanta who aspires do to wonderful things. Rashan is more than just a radio personality on Hot 107.9's A-Team Morning Show and sideline reporter for the Atlanta Hawks. She has her hands in lots of things! She's also a philanthropist, a mother, a writer and an actress. Recently she played a character by the name of Monica in the movie Three Can Play That Game starring Vivica Fox and I can assure you Rashan is unforgettable in that movie! She really made the most out of all of her scenes! Atlanta better enjoy Mrs. Ali Smith while they can because although she'll always be Queen Of The East Side, she's on the verge of becoming too big to let just one city own her.

I recently exchanged emails with Rashan about her love for sports and her non-profit organization Sporty Girls Inc. Part of this interview appeared in Score Atlanta. Here is the interview in it's entirety.

How did you first become interested in sports?

I was born into a sports family. My father is Buck Godfrey who is the head football coach at Southwest Dekalb High School and the winningest high school football coach in Dekalb County history. My mother coached Pop Warner football at Glenwood Hills Park. She led her team to an undefeated season. Yes, my mother!

Not only did my father coach football, he also coached our summer league swimming team and the high school swim team at Towers High School and SWD. He taught me how to swim at the age of three. I began swimming competitively at the age of five. There were very few girls swimming at the time so I would have to swim the boys in my age group. It definitely helped me build character at an early age!

What is your favorite sport to play?

I am definitely good for a nice swimming workout from time to time! It used to be hard to swim recreationally because after so many years of training you kind of look at the pool like, "man, I sure did put in a lot of hours throughout my life." Training for swimming is arduous! It can be grueling at times. Nonetheless, it is the best exercise for your body, hands down.

What inspired you to create Sporty Girls?

Sporty Girls, Inc. is a non-profit organization which encourages young African-American girls to swim, play golf, tennis and soccer while developing lifestyle skills. We are in the midst of our first summer camp right now!! It has been extremely exciting!!! I am so thankful.

SGI was a dream that I had about two years ago. Growing up, my relay team and I were the only Black girls in the water for a number of years. We were very good and very successful. (We still have two records that stand in the Dekalb County Summer League Record books. One record is 23 years old.) All of us received full scholarships to swim in college. Two of us went to Florida A&M University. One attended Georgia Southern and the other went to Howard University. All of our degrees were free because we chose a sport that most African-American girls just don't do. So I thought to myself, why not create a way for girls from all economic backgrounds to be exposed to the sports "we" don't generally participate in on a professional level. There are scholarships being given in these sports, but they are not going to our youth because we simply have never participated in it.
Swimming also helped me to foster great relationships. The girls on my relay team were also in my wedding. That's what swimming did for me.

Do you think non-traditional sports offer something more than the popular sports?

I think all sports offer the same things. Since we traditionally aren't seen in a swim suit, with golf clubs, with a racket, with shin splints; it gives them that much more confidence to believe that they can accomplish anything by succeeding in those non-traditional sports.

Do you think we need to do more to highlight the successful African American women who are involved in sports whether it be through competition or reporting?

I think the media does a great job in highlighting women of color. Because we have to be that much better than our colleagues, I think we always stand out. I'm always looking for the woman that looks like me and when I see her exhibiting her knowledge and athletic prowess, it makes me proud!

Do you ever feel awkward being one of, if not the only woman in the locker room?

I never feel awkward! I've been around male athletes all my life! I've always considered myself the 'feminine tomboy" so I can relate to males very well! I know how to form good relationships with athletes. They gain respect by your approach and your knowledge of the game. I think I've done a great job with both of those.

You've been the sideline reporter for the Atlanta Hawks for the past few years, but since the birth of your daughter you started working fewer games. Do you plan on continuing with the Atlanta Hawks this upcoming season?

Being a part of the Atlanta Hawks Game Operations staff has been very rewarding. Not only do I have the opportunity to engage the audience with meaningful sideline interviews, but I really get a chance to know the players. I've formed lifelong relationships with many of the staff members and certainly the good people at Philips Arena! I am still sorting things out for next season. I really think I always want to be a part of the family in some capacity because they have been so good to me. Peter Sorckoff and Matt Payne are really incredible people! They've given me an incredible opportunity and they always encourage me to cultivate my talent. What more can you ask for?

I've also been given the opportunity to do some new things with "Better Mornings" on CBS 46, so television is definitely up next!

What about Radio One and sports....

My co-host and friend Griffy 2K and myself do the sports twice a day on the show. I also write a sports commentary every Thursday that is posted on our website. This gives me the chance to talk about any and everything I'd like to talk about. I've talked about everything from Evander Holyfield to Vivian Stringer. I'm proud to say that I'm a woman and I love sports. What man doesn't love that? My husband certainly does!

If you want to learn more about Sporty Girls Inc. or you want to make a donation, log onto the website or write to:

Sporty Girls Inc.
P.O. box 4390
Atlanta, GA 30303
Voice/Fax 404.806.7352

Please visit www.rashanali.net to learn more about Rashan.


Anonymous said...

CC another great interview!!!!

TADOne said...

Great interview CoCo. Keep doing your thing.

Anonymous said...

Looks like there are two women who love sports. Who said that this was a man's world? Great job CoCo!

Holly said...

Great stuff, CoCo. Love to see another woman breaking down barriers in the sports world. While we're not lucky to have Rashan here in Canada, thanks for letting us know what's up!

viagra online said...

She indeed is a remarkable woman, I listened to her on the radio and she knows her stuff, she is very popular and not only in Atlanta, she is becoming ore and more popular in all over the country.