Shari Bartz-Smith is pictured with daughters Rylie (center) and Sienna Smith.
There are two significant photos of Shari Bartz-Smith from early in her career as an athletic trainer. In one, she is pictured with the volleyball team at Northwood University, the other with the football team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
In the volleyball photo, Bartz-Smith is not standing in the back with the head coach and head athletic trainer, she is sitting on the floor with several players. Two years later, during photo day for the football team at UAB, Bartz-Smith said she watched from the sidelines as players, coaching staff and head athletic trainer posed for pictures. She was not invited.
"I told my boss that as the assistant football athletic trainer I belong in that photo," Bartz-Smith said. "He said, 'Of course you do,' and I had my photo taken with the rest of the coaching and medical staff. The difference between the two photos was that I hadn't found my voice yet at Northwood.
"This is where my career and my voice became my own."
Bartz-Smith graduated from Grand Valley in 1992 with a degree in health science and emphasis on athletic training. A student-athlete, she was a member, and later captain, of the Laker swim team.
After earning a doctorate from the University of Alabama and UAB, she returned to her alma mater as its first full-time athletic training program coordinator.
Students enrolled in the program are successful in the classroom and workforce. For the past two years, Grand Valley's pass rate on the athletic training national certification exam has been 100 percent, 20 percent higher than the national average. About 70 percent of graduates continue their studies in graduate schools; the job placement rate is close to 100 percent, Bartz-Smith said.
Doug Woods, faculty member in Movement Science and head softball coach, established Grand Valley's athletic training program and mentored Bartz-Smith when she was a student. "I am so fortunate," Bartz-Smith said. "I was able to combine a love of sports and health care as my profession; and as a coordinator, I have strived to keep the integrity of the program that Doug started."
Shari and Chad Smith have two daughters, ages 4 and 7. Both girls enjoy swimming and the family enjoys participating in karate and bicycling.