Published on February 17, 2022, at 12:46 p.m.
by Katie Holec.
When I think of the sports industry and the people involved in it, I think of males. There is not much female representation in the sports world, and for women who want to pursue a career in sports, this can be daunting.
Despite this “norm,” the recent promotions within Major League Baseball (MLB) and hirings in the National Hockey League organizations have inspired me to keep working toward my goal of having a career in the professional sports industry.
Keep in mind, each of these women had to start somewhere.
Balkovec began her career as a hitting coach for the Florida Complex League, a rookie-level MLB organization. In 2019, she became the first female minor-league hitting coach in Major League Baseball. After being promoted, Balkovec is now the first woman to hold a manager position for a minor-league team, overseeing the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons.
In a statement regarding Balkovec’s promotion, Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “I am pleased to see the game continue to make important progress at various levels. Major League Baseball is committed to providing a supportive environment for women and girls to pursue our sport as players, coaches, umpires and executives.”
Just a few days later, the Red Sox hired Katie Krall to its minor-league staff. Krall previously spent four years with MLB before leaving to work at Google. In January 2022, she was hired as the development coach for the Red Sox’s Double-A affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs. With Krall’s hiring, the Red Sox became the first-ever franchise to have two women on its coaching staff, Krall and the first Black woman to coach in professional baseball, Bianca Smith.
MLB is not the only organization creating opportunities for women; the NHL is also working toward this goal.
As a former hockey player and agent, Émilie Castonguay has experience in the hockey world. Recently, she was hired to be the assistant general manager for the Vancouver Canucks.
In her introductory press conference, Castonguay stated, “If you have the knowledge and you’ve done the work, there’s a place for you [in the industry]. If it needs to start with me, good, but for me, it’s just always been my experience.”
Following Castonguay’s hiring, the Vancouver Canucks added Cammi Granato to its staff. Granato is the third female assistant general manager following Castonguay and Angela Gorgone.
According to an article in the Las Vegas Sun, a discussion was hosted by The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, titled “Women Leaders in Pro Sports.” Kim Davis, the NHL senior executive vice president, was in attendance. Davis expressed that a female could be hired as a general manager “in the next five years.” She stated that “over the past 18 months, [NHL] clubs have hired five women in key roles in hockey operations, including women in scouting roles … It’s not a pipe dream, it’s happening.”
By hiring more women, each company has grown its audience, and the idea of working in the sports world has become more and more attainable for other women with a passion for athletics. These companies have a chance to promote women in sports and influence others like them.
The glass ceiling is rising. Women, myself included, are beginning to be recognized for our accomplishments, and we are closer than ever to reaching our dreams.