SAN FRANCISCO - The Bay Area WNBA expansion team has named its new president: Jess Smith.
The Golden State Warriors leadership made the announcement Tuesday, naming a woman with ties to Bay Area professional sports.
"What we put together here in genuine, has a North Star that really invites everyone to come along," said Smith after she was introduced by Brandon Schneider, the Warriors president.
She has nearly 20 years of experience in professional sports.
Owner Joe Lacob said it was important that a woman heads the team and that Smith is the perfect person for the job.
"She's been in the trenches. She worked hard. I think she's going to be fantastic," he said.
Smith came to the expansion team from the Angel City Football Club, a professional women's soccer team based in Los Angeles. Before that, she was with the San Jose Earthquakes, but she started her professional career from the ground up with the Oakland A's.
At that point, I was selling tickets for the organization. I took that job incredibly seriously. In every job, every piece is the collective of what the result will become," said Smith.
The team will play at Chase Center. But Smith's office and the team headquarters will be at the Warriors' old facility in Oakland.
At Oakland High School, news that Smith would be leading the team was met with excitement by the girl's basketball team and their coach.
"Because the team is female, they should also make the leaders of the team female, so I feel like it's exciting and inspiring, said 16-year-old Ojiugo Egeonu.
"Whenever someone is the trailblazer, it's breaking past what the norm is in our society. I'm excited for her to have done that I'm proud of her. Congratulations," Oakland High's girls basketball coach Nita Simpson.
"To see a woman as the president of the team is a really big thing. It gives girls something to look up to and a person to look up to. It's letting people know that it can be done," said 17-year-old Daijha Teague.
Smith was visibly moved when told that these student-athletes were inspired by her.
"I was one of them at some point. That's a little emotional for me to hear, but what an honor to be able to build something I hope they can be incredibly proud of and be somebody they can eventually be as well," Smith said the pressure to build on a legacy of trust that the Golden State leadership has built with fans is a privilege.
She has this advice for young women.
"Ask yourself what's important to you. Always do what's right, not what's easy and to have tenacity in whatever you like to do," said Smith.
She is a wife and mother to two young daughters. Her family was at Chase Center to support her at the announcement. Smith starts her new position Feb. 14. The expansion team's name and colors have yet to be announced. The team is expected to start playing in 2025.
Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at Amber.Lee@Fox.com or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU, Instagram @AmberKTVU or Twitter @AmberKTVU.