Justine Siegal Becomes The 1st Female Baseball Coach In MLB History

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Remember the name Justine Siegal, because for the past few years she has been making history in a number of different occasions, but now she has really hit a home run. She has been hired by the Oakland A’s as a guest instructor for their team competing in the Instructional League, officially making her the first female baseball coach in Major League Baseball.

This announcement caps off a banner year for women in major men’s sporting divisions. In the NBA we saw Becky Hammon become the coach of the San Antonio Spurs during the summer league and take them to victory. More recently we cheered after reading about Jen Welter becoming the first female coach in the NFL, working for the Arizona Cardinals. We guess it was only a matter of time before the MLB followed suit, but there is much to shout about when it comes to Justine Siegal.

She has actually been working in professional men’s baseball for a while. In the spring of 2011, she threw batting practice for the Oakland A’s, Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, and the New York Mets. Before making her way to the MLB and after two years as the only woman coaching in collegiate baseball, Justine was hired as the 1st base coach for the independent minor league team, the Brockton Rox in 2009, making her the first female coach to work for a men’s professional baseball team.

Her stint with the Oakland A’s will only be for a couple of weeks early October and will work with player development staff working with infielders, throwing batting practice and will lead classroom presentations on the mental side of baseball. Already her assignment is earning the praise of those around her.

“We feel like Justine has a lot to offer and that (the Instructional League) is a great place to get her feet wet. She’ll be doing a little bit of everything,” the A’s assistant general manager David Forst told SF Gate.

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The coaching positions for next season have not yet been assigned, which means there is a possibility this could turn into a full time gig for Justine at the A’s, but David Forst emphasized nothing has been promised, yet he has also not ruled it out.

While many people are happy to see women breaking barriers and forging new paths in various industries, there are others who aren’t as excited and claim it should be about merit only. Well we are pleased to say that Justine brings nothing but merit, skill and experience to this position. She holds a Ph.D in sport and exercise psychology from Springfield College in Massachusetts, and is also the president and founder of Baseball for All, a non-profit that provides baseball coaching to young children, especially girls.

Baseball For All fosters, encourages, and provides opportunities for girls to participate in baseball. They educate the public concerning the importance of providing equal opportunities and provide resources for girls who are told they are not allowed to try out for a school team.

Justine is not just a ground-breaking, she is an international leader in baseball. She sits on the Board of Directors for the World Baseball Softball Confederation, and is also the Chair of the Women’s Commission for the International Baseball Federation.

It’s an honor to make history but its much more important that we build a better future,” she says in a statement on her website about her achievements so far.

Acknowledging this huge milestone for women in the MLB, Justine expressed how excited she is to be working with the A’s.

“It’s a dream come true. The A’s are a first-class organization and it will be an honor to wear their uniform,” she said.

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Of course the question on everyone’s lips is “how will the guys react”? Justine is not complacent about the gender issue, but believes she has what it takes to win over any naysayers.

“I’ve found from experience that men are surprised to have a woman coach, but when they realize you know what you’re talking about and that you care, you fit right in with the rest of the staff,” she said.

Head coach David Forst also hopes her skill will outshine any question about her ability simply because she is a woman.

“It’s hard to say, but I hope there is no reaction. I hope they see Justine as just another coach,” he said.

While they hope there won’t be any negativity surrounding her decision within the league, there are always the armchair critics to bear in mind. After EA Sports announced it was finally going to include women’s soccer teams in the FIFA 16 video game, twitter was awash with men complaining about the inclusion of the opposite gender.

Josh Katowitz form the Daily Dot made mention to this issue when he did a search on twitter relating to the news about Justine becoming the MLB’s first female coach.

“As for the Twitter reaction, it was celebratory. In fact, I didn’t find a single negative or misogynistic tweet directed to or about Siegal. That, one supposes, is a good sign,” he wrote.

For now, we are excited to see yet another female trailblazer giving a silent nod to all the women and girls who may come behind her, letting them know it is possible. In an interview with CNN back in August, she recognized even then the weight of her position in the public eye and what it means to be a role model.

Every step I made, I knew that there was a teenage kid behind me looking to see if this was possible, and so I was very careful with how I reacted to everything. I knew my mission was bigger than just me,” she said.

Jen Welter congratulated her fellow female sport trailblazer in a tweet:

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Justine is a person whose journey we can all get some inspiration from, whether you are a man or a woman. We all face obstacles, naysayers, rejection and confusion in life, especially if we are going after a dream that has never been done before. But her positive can-do attitude and determination to work hard despite the odds, has proved to be a winning formula that eventually landed her the home run she was looking for.

Back in January 2013 she gave a TEDx Talk titled “Following Your Dream When Others Are Mean” where she stood on stage in full baseball regalia and talked about the importance of never giving up.

“We all have this story where we’ve been told we couldn’t do something. The best part about my story is that there is nothing special about me. I’m 5’7″, I’ve got decent athletic ability and average smarts. That means we all have the ability to make our dreams come true. What I have is passion and determination. That’s in all of us. We all have the choice to make that happen,” she says in the video below.

We hope Justine’s achievements, and her ability to pursue her dreams will inspire you to do the same today, no matter what it is or who you are:


 

 

 

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