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Swish!

Basketball plays out in jazz style, all ebbs and flows, and the game’s quick changes have helped Katie Smith learn how best to navigate life off the court.

Smith honed her ability to pass, shoot and rebound in such grand manner that the native of tiny Logan, Ohio, traveled the globe — a perspective-expanding trek launched by her playing career at Ohio State from 1992 to ’96.

Few sports resumes match the 43-year-old Smith’s: three Olympic gold medals, two WNBA championships, two American Basketball League titles and much more. She was the first female athlete to have her jersey retired by Ohio State, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Life and Human Sciences in 2008 and a master’s in allied health professions in 2014, a degree in medical dietetics. 

She played 17 professional seasons, the final 15 in the WNBA, which named her one of its top-20 and most influential players.

Smith, who retired from playing in 2013, is entering her first year as a WNBA head coach with the New York Liberty on a wave of adulation. In February, she was named to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and also a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

With the NCAA Women’s Final Four being hosted by Ohio State and Columbus at Nationwide Arena from March 30 to April 1, Smith took time to reflect on the many lessons she learned while traveling the world with Team USA and winning games throughout our nation as a professional.

Smith shared her three-pointers for young women setting their eyes on their own career dreams.

Trust your voice.”

“I would say really be confident in what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling, and don’t be scared to share those things.”

“Bloom where you're planted.”

“I heard somebody say that, and it has kind of stuck with me. It basically means wherever you’re at – good, bad, indifferent — may not be the be-all, end-all to you, but be the best you can be at that moment. Grow and learn and do everything you can. Wherever you’re at, in that situation, just be the best that you can be.”

“Stay connected with people.”

“Really use your resources. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help or bounce ideas off of them. You also have to be intentional about it. You have to have an idea and be specific about what you want.

“I think being intentional about networking and keeping people warm goes along with that. You can’t make a connection with somebody, then not speak to them in two or three years, and then want them to help connect you with somebody else. Drop them a line. Drop them a text. Send them an email. Keep those relationships strong because you never know where they may lead you.”