Meet the First Female Manager in History of Affiliated Baseball
Baseball fans rejoice: Rachel Balkovec just became the first female manager in the history of affiliated baseball.
Earlier this month, the former college softball player was appointed as the manager of the Tampa Tarpons, the New York Yankees' low-A affiliate in the Florida State League. At 34-years-old, Balkovec’s professional chops include acting as the former catcher at Creighton and New Mexico; she’s previously “worked in strength and conditioning with the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros since breaking into pro ball in 2012, and also spent time at Driveline Baseball, a data-driven center that has trained numerous major leaguers,” reports ESPN.
The publication also notes Balkovec is “an expert in performance science, precisely the background teams are coveting,” and has two master's degrees. One degree is in kinesiology from LSU and another in human movement sciences from Vrije University in the Netherlands.
In an interview with NPR, Balkovec shared that one of her goals is to befriend the players she manages on a deeper level.
“My goal is, really, to know the names of the girlfriends, the dogs, the families of all the players. My goal is to develop them as young men and young people who have an immense amount of pressure on them,” she shared.
She also recalled how, just three years ago, she had been “sleeping on a mattress that I had pulled out of a dumpster in Amsterdam.” Since then, she’s proud to be breaking barriers for women in sports everywhere and talked candidly to the outlet about the discrimination she’s experienced in a field primarily dominated by men.
“This is a little counterintuitive, but I'm glad I was discriminated against. If you're feeling like you're not welcome or it's a difficult path, good,” she said. “You know, try to look at yourself and go, this is going to be good for me in the future, even if it doesn't feel good in the moment.”