Yankees name Rachel Balkovec as first female miners manager

Rachel Balkovec, a revolutionary baseball coach , will become the manager of a team in the Yankees ‘minor league system, making her the ...

Rachel Balkovec, a revolutionary baseball coach, will become the manager of a team in the Yankees‘minor league system, making her the first woman to lead a professional affiliate baseball team.

Balkovec, 34, will lead the Tampa Tarpons, the low-class A branch of the Yankees, for the 2022 season, which begins in April. The Yankees hired her in November 2019 as a batting coach in their minor leagues. She was believed to be the first woman hired as a full-time hitting instructor by a big league team.

News of Balkovec’s promotion to manager was first reported by The Athletic and has been confirmed by a Yankees official.

Balkovec has begun working in professional baseball in 2012, on a temporary contract as a strength and conditioning coach for the minor league branch of the St. Louis Cardinals in Johnson City, Tenn., where she was the strength coach of the Appalachian League. She was the Cardinals minor league strength and conditioning coordinator in 2014 and 2015 and the first woman to hold a full-time position in this field in major league affiliate baseball.

In 2016, she was the Latin America strength and conditioning coordinator for the Houston Astros. Two years later, she became a strength and conditioning coach for the Astros’s Class AA Corpus Christi Hooks.

Balkovec was a catcher on the Creighton and University of New Mexico softball teams. She holds a master’s degree in kinesiology from the State of Louisiana. She left the Astros in 2018 to pursue her second master’s degree in human movement science at the University of Vrije in the Netherlands. While there, she also served as an assistant hitting coach for baseball and softball programs across the country.

She learned Spanish herself to be a more effective communicator. And before the Yankees hired her, she worked at Driveline Baseball, a data-based baseball training center in Washington state. At Driveline, she was researching eye tracking for hitters and hip movement for pitchers.

Balkovec faced resistance when she applied for strength and conditioning jobs in baseball years ago. When she changed her first name on her resume and applications to “Rae” from “Rachel,” she got calls from the teams. But she said officials on the other end of the phone were taken aback when they found out she was female. Some did not call back and others said they would not hire a woman.

“I see my background as an advantage,” she said in December 2019. “I probably had to do a lot more than maybe a male counterpart, but I like it because I’m so much better prepared for things. and the challenges I might encounter. And I want to encourage young women or women in general that maybe it’s not fair that we have to work a little harder. OK fine. But I’m glad I had to do it because now I’m well and much better prepared than if it had been handed to me earlier.

The promotion of Balkovec to the post of director represents the continued rise of women in this male dominated industry, especially in the field. This progress came in the middle significant obstacles.

In 2020, Alyssa Nakken became the first woman to work as a full-time major league coach, with the San Francisco Giants. Kim Ng, a former assistant general manager for the Yankees, became the first woman to become a general manager, along with the Miami Marlins. And Bianca Smith was hired as a minor league coach in the Boston Red Sox organization, making her the first black woman to ever coach in affiliate professional baseball.

As of January 1, 2021, 22 women held field coaching or player development positions, up from three in 2017, according to Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. Despite the progress, the institute’s latest newsletter gave Major League Baseball and its 30 teams a C grade for gender hiring.

As manager, Balkovec will be responsible for guiding coaches, players and team staff; help players develop; and make in-game tactical decisions, including leading a pitching team. This last step could be one of many in his career. Last year she said the “Locker Room Talk” podcast that she dreamed of becoming general manager.

“I hope that will happen within 10 years, but it’s obviously a role that is coveted by many. I don’t know when, where, how or anything else, “she said, later adding,” I have a lot to learn as a batting coach, but it is definitely the North star.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Yankees name Rachel Balkovec as first female miners manager
Yankees name Rachel Balkovec as first female miners manager
Newsrust - US Top News
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