One base at a time, Gajownik makes Sod Poodles coaching history
AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - June 23 marks the 50 year anniversary of when President Richard Nixon signed the Education Amendments Act including Title IX which protects people from gender discrimination. Since 1972, women have broken the glass ceiling in many male dominant sports, and in recent years baseball is seeing the positive impact like the Sod Poodles with Ronnie Gajownik.
It takes one hit to get to first base, but somebody has to get the rally started.
“You know they treat me just like anybody else,” said Gajownik. “Now I just got a little bit of a pony tail more so than some of the guys.”
Ronnie Gajownik, a team USA women’s baseball Pan-American 2015 gold medalist, got the call-up to lead the Amarillo Sod Poodles at first base.
“The reason why I got into coaching is because the passion and the emotion that you have on the field I believe you can’t really get anywhere else,” said Gajownik. “You know being a coach that’s the closest I could get to being a player and being in-between those lines now I’m just about 5-10 feet off of them.”
Her passion on the field started last season with the Diamondback’s A-Advanced Hillsboro Hops team. On September 5, 2021 she became the first woman in Northwest League history to coach first base.
“There was a really cool experience. It was two weeks ago,” said Gajownik. “It was the seventh or eighth inning and I’m out on first base and all of a sudden I hear a group of little girls go ‘We love you Coach Ronnie’ and to be able to turn around and see their excitement it made me emotional on the inside.”
For 2022 at least 10 women are on-field coaches for Major and Minor League Baseball combined.
“The whole women and coaching and we have a really close group,” said Gajownik. “To be able to experience the sport and the beginning of all the bread crumbs that we are going to be laying for all of the future people it’s been really great to be able to talk to them and lean on them.”
Off the field Gajownik works specifically with outfielders and the hitting coach. She’s got a game plan for all scenarios.
“With every player who is hitting you know what I mean and she actually moves me around through the outfield and she helps me with that,” said Jorge Barrosa, Sod Poodles outfielder.
“It’s a great group of guys and the atmosphere of the clubhouse in unmatched,” said Gajownik. “They’ve been doing a really good job with the staff and with the players and just really enjoyable to be with them on the field and also off the field.”
Other Notable Names in Professional Baseball
Rachel Balkovec, Yankees manager for Low-A Tampa Tarpons
Alyssa Nakken, Giants assistant coach
Rachel Folden, hitting coach in Cubs’ farm system
Bianca Smith, hitting/outfield coach in Red Sox’s system
Veronica Alvarez, A’s Spring Training catching instructor and roving Minor League instructor
Jaime Vieira, hitting coach in Blue Jays’ system
Katie Krall, development coach in Boston’s system
Caitlyn Callahan, development coach in Pirates’ system
Gretchen Aucoin, coach in Mets’ system
Kayla Baptista, a development coaching apprentice in the Rangers’ system
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