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Rachel Balkovec Becomes First Female Minor League Manager

Rachel Balkovec first Female Minor League Manager

Rachel Balkovec has become the first female manager in minor league baseball history. She was hired by the New York Yankees’ low-A affiliate Tampa Tarpons. She has experience from playing softball to coaching.

Balkovec’s Roots

Balkovec was born in Omaha, Nebraska on July 5, 1987. Growing up, she was always into sports, even into high school. After she graduated from Skutt Catholic High School, she attended Creighton University. Rachel then transferred to the University of New Mexico, earning a degree in exercise science. While there, she played softball.

In 2009, Balkovec interned for API (Athletes’ Performance), now known as EXOS, where she was a strength and conditioning coach. A year later, she became a strength and conditioning graduate assistant at LSU. She later earned a Master’s degree in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University.

In 2012, Balkovec was the strength and conditioning intern for the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league team. She spent a few more years in strength and conditioning internships with other places such as Arizona State University and the Chicago White Sox. Then she landed strength and conditioning coach in 2018 with the Houston Astros AA affiliate.

The Netherlands and then the Yankees

In 2019, Balkovec decided to go to the Netherlands to obtain another Master’s degree from Vrije University in the Netherlands. She was an apprentice hitting coach for both the Netherlands National Baseball and Softball programs.

Balkovec was ultimately hired by the Yankees as a MiLB hitting coach later in 2019. Now she is the first female manager of a minor league team, where she will look to help out the Tampa Tarpons.

She had to go through many obstacles to get to where she is at. Balkovec has commented on having to change her name to “Rae” in an effort to get people not to judge her just because of her gender, a suggestion made by one of her sisters. It worked until the time came when she had to talk on the phone and her voice was heard.

According to Balkovec, her point of contact with the Cardinals said that his bosses wouldn’t even let him hire a woman in the role of strength and conditioning. This is a role she has done for several teams, so the experience is there, but he was told the same thing from all the other teams.

What to look for vs What to Expect

It is a shame to see someone with the kind of experience that Balkovec has to have to change her approach in order to get hired. Teams should be looking for people with experience, which Balkovec has. It is great to see a team giving her a chance.

Of course, there are some haters out there who think it can’t be done or shouldn’t be done. Balkovec finds the negativity to be “hilarious”, saying “it’s the American dream.” This makes a lot of sense because it is not only young boys who have grown up watching sports, hoping to be a part of their favorite team. There are also several girls who watch sports just the same, cheering when their team wins or yelling at the television “go, go go” when a player is rounding third base.

This can lead to either bigger opportunities for Balkovec, or bring about great change for the Yankees organization. If the Tarpons win a championship or two, that would help Balkovec a lot. Not only that, but what if some of the players she manages end up being brought up to the Yankees, where they make a huge impact and the Yankees win a World Series? That would look great on Balkovec’s resume.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of the New York Yankees of milb.com

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