Rachel Folden realized something during her first spring camp with the Chicago Cubs _ long before the new coronavirus pandemic caused the team’s suspension of activities.
Neither player cares much that one of their coaches is female. However, the girls he talks to care a lot about a woman being part of the coaching staff.
“Some people have approached me to say that their daughters are now glued to the television watching baseball or that their daughters know that there is a certain way they can get to baseball, and they don’t have to go softball,” Folden said. “There are actually quite a few people who have told me.”
Major League Baseball is driving the same message. Recognizing the importance of representation when it comes to expanding baseball, the commissioner’s office continues to look for ways to attract more women and minority populations to the sport.
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) in Central Florida awarded baseball a C rating for gender hiring in its most recent report on diversity, which was released in April. from last year _ one point below the result of a previous year of 70. But Major League Baseball expects a series of hires made during the last months of the year to be a sign that its Diversity Channeling Program is paying off.
Alyssa Nakken became the first woman in a major league coaching staff to be named assistant to the new manager of the San Francisco Giants, Gabe Kapler. Folden obtained a job with the Cubs as his top batting supervisor and fourth coach for Mesa’s rookie level team. Rachel Balkovec was hired as a minor league hitting coach for the New York Yankees.
Veronica Alvarez worked with the Oakland Athletics during spring camp for the second consecutive year, and Christina Whitlock was hired as a minor league coach with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I am here for a reason,” said Nakken. “I am here to make an impact. People can think what they want, but it all goes back to that sense of responsibility. I’m going to go in to forge a path, make my way and work extremely hard. ”
Nakken, Folden, Balkovec, Álvarez, and Whitlock are related to Take The Field, a development program for winter meetings that is designed to integrate women into baseball’s operational pipeline.
Major League Baseball has also begun to invest more in women’s baseball and softball tournaments and programs to identify and network with women interested in pursuing a career in baseball. Baseball’s increasing dependence on technology is also creating more opportunities for women.
“In today’s context, it’s not really about your background as a player at all,” said Tyrone Brooks, senior director of the Diversity Channeling Program in both the field and major league management fields. “It’s more about whether you have skills that can be applied in the way a team approaches the development of its players. Obviously, technology plays an increasing role in player development. ”