Joy Smith

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As an award-winning Division I basketball coach with over 12 years of leadership experience in college athletics, Joy (Cheek) Smith has recruited/developed top talent, mentored peers, and created connections for the most well-known NCAA programs in the country.


Entering her fifth season at Clemson University, Smith is driven by a desire to create space and opportunity for others on and off the court.


As a participant of A Step Up Symposium and a member of the Women’s Basketball Collegiate Association, where she was recognized as one of 30 up-and-coming women’s basketball coaches in 2017, Smith is an advocate for advancing sports in service of society.


Smith is a connector. Throughout the first decade of her coaching career at Vanderbilt University, Ohio State University, and Duke University, Smith elevated programs by recruiting top-tier athletes and elevating fellow female coaches to increase representation in leadership.

In addition to leading her teams to multiple appearances in the NCAA Tournament, winning a conference title, and coaching over a dozen players who went on to become national and international stars, Smith is blazing the trail for fellow Black female coaches and sports administrators to diversify mentorship for student-athletes during their most informative years.


Smith undoubtedly owns any space she occupies. She has grown connections, awareness, and results for the teams, networks, and communities she has helped lead throughout her life.


Before her professional career as the 35th pick in the WNBA and seasons abroad, Smith (known then as Joy Cheek) dominated the court and classroom as a student-athlete at Duke University, scoring more than 1,000 career points and achieving academic honors. After being selected as a White House intern she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy, both of which fueled her desire for advocacy and purpose.


Smith’s ability to identify talent, coach for improvement, and get the best out of others uniquely positions her to drive progress in the world around her and create an impact that will last for generations to come.


Speaking Topics - 


  • Why trying new things is essential to growth & development

  • Leading change for future generations

  • How to best impact future leaders during their most informative years

  • How to identify, create, & nurture meaningful connections

  • Why representation starts with social acceptance

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