Angela Smith is a former British and world squash champion, a founder of WISPA, the professional ladies’ body for squash, and now chair of the Stoke City FC Supporters Council.
Angela was the first professional female squash player in the world and among the top ranks from 1979 to 1990. She is widely recognised for changing the face of women’s squash through a career that pushed the sport to new audiences and took her around the globe as a competitor and as one of the most highly regarded coaches of the time.
Originally from Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, Angela attended St Dominic’s High School, Hartshill, where she first took an interest in tennis. With access to outdoor courts only and the British weather ensuring regular practice was difficult to schedule, Angela transitioned from one racket sport to another after seeing a story in The Sentinel newspaper about new squash courts opening in the area.
By the age of 24 she turned professional and enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top, reaching number two in the UK upon her first entry into the list, and becoming British champion in 1976. The same year she was named Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year. Three years later, she led the British team to victory at the 1979 Women’s World Team Squash Championships. In her long playing career, Angela only ever lost twice while on international duty, taking open titles in Spain, Portugal, Canada, the US, Norway, Israel and Bermuda.
Alongside her success competing, Angela was squash coach at the prestigious Vertical Cub, in New York, where she coached many famous personalities of the time, including former First Lady of the US Jackie Kennedy. She then spent six years in Nassau, Bahamas, taking squash from a little-known sport to one embraced by the locals, coaching several juniors who eventually played on the world circuit. Angela also had great success coaching and developing the sport in Spain, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and Kenya, and organised the first women’s squash events in the Middle East, in Dubai and Bahrain.
In 1979, Angela formed with Women’ International Squash Players Association (WISPA) alongside Jayne Ashton, Sue Newman, Barbara Wall and Lyle Hubinger, which grew to over 500 members at its height, before merging with the Professional Squash Association (PSA) in 2011.
After retiring from professional competition, Angela got involved in Stoke City FC, having been a lifelong fan. She became an ambassador for the club and helped to set up a successful academy in Shanghai, China. She was also elected to chair the Supporters Council, a position she has held for the past eight years, ensuring fans have a say on the direction of the club.
The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Angela in recognition of her remarkable sporting achievements, for supporting and promoting women in sport and the development of professional squash, alongside her ambassadorial role for Stoke-on-Trent and Stoke City FC.