Rachel Balkovec has made history by becoming the first woman to manage a team in an affiliated baseball for the Yankees. In a historically male-dominated industry, Balkovec’s accomplishment is nothing short of a cause for celebration.
As reported by the New York Times, Rachel Balkovec will become the manager of a team in the Yankees’ minor league system. Now 34, Balkovec will manage the Tampa Tarpons, the Yankees’ low-Class A affiliate, for the 2022 season, which begins in April.
The Yankees hired her in November 2019 as their minor league hitting coach, also the first woman in that position.
According to USA Today, Balkovec was a collegiate softball player at both Creighton University and New Mexico and then worked as a strength and conditioning coach in the St. Louis Cardinals organizations.
In 2016, she was also a coordinator for the Houston Astros in Latin America. She holds a master’s degree in kinesiology from Louisiana State. She left the Astros in 2018 to pursue her second master’s degree, in human movement science, at Vrije University in the Netherlands.
She taught herself Spanish to become a more effective communicator. And before the Yankees hired her, she worked at Driveline Baseball, a data-driven baseball training center in Washington state. At Driveline, she researched the eye-tracking of hitters and the hip movement of pitchers.
As the New York Times continued, Balkovec faced resistance when he applied for strength and conditioning jobs in baseball years ago. When she changed her first name from “Rachel” to “Rae” on her resume and applications, she got calls from teams. But she said officials on the other end of the line were surprised when they discovered she was a woman. Some didn’t call her back, and others said they wouldn’t hire a woman.
“I view my path as an advantage,” Balkovec said in December 2019. “I had to do probably much more than maybe a male counterpart, but I like that because I’m so much more prepared for the things and the challenges that I might encounter. And I want to encourage young women or women in general that maybe it’s not fair we have to work a little harder. OK, fine. But I’m glad I had to because now I’m well and way more prepared than if it was handed to me early.”