Rita Smith came to Lees-McRae in 1983 as an athletic trainer, assistant basketball and assistant tennis coach as well as associate dormitory director. Over the years she has guided the growth of the athletic training program from just herself, to its current level as an CAATE accredited program with four additional certified athletic trainers and thirteen athletic training students.
During her time at Lees-McRae, Smith has also worked numerous camps and special events from Dave Cowens Basketball Schools to Special Olympic World Games and NCAA Division II Track & Field Championship. Smith earned her Bachelor of Science from University North Carolina Greensboro and her Master of Arts from Appalachian State University. She is a NATA certified athletic trainer as well as a North Carolina licensed athletic trainer. Smith currently resides in Banner Elk, N.C.