Kendra Smither,¿ far right, hands off the baton to Maria Acosta during the A-10 2021 outdoor championships.
Kendra Smither, ’22, far right, hands off the baton to Maria Acosta, ’20, during the A-10 2021 outdoor championships.


All in for the team

A relay is a funny race. Each runner spends three of the four race legs as a spectator. If she runs the last leg, her time is spent anxiously awaiting the baton. At the A-10 championships in 2020, Kendra Smither, ’22, was on the front end. Running the lead leg, she put her team in first place at the handoff. Then, she watched like everyone else as the gold medal performance that she started played out (see sidebar).

“The thing I remember most is cheering on my teammates for the rest of the race and seeing them destroy the field,” she said. “The best thing about winning a relay is knowing that you did it with all of your teammates.”

Smither applies her selfless outlook and considerable talents in her academic work, too. Over the summer, the anthropology and psychology major led nearly three dozen 13- to 16-year-olds on a service trip across the mountains of Puerto Rico.

Closer to campus, she has interned with Friends of East End, which is dedicated to restoring neglected African American burial grounds in the Richmond area. She participated in excavations and helped research genealogies of those interred to build biographies for their descendants. The work earned her the award for outstanding civic engagement during athletics’ annual SPIDY awards. Her goals for the upcoming season are, true to form, team-focused.

“Whether that’s being a great leader as a captain, scoring points for each competition and event, and making this team championship-ready and beyond is what I’m all in for,” she said. “A successful team makes a successful individual.”