“It was certainly emotional because I grew up loving the Giants, I was three weeks old when I went to my first game, so it was like a combination of one, like ‘wow no woman has done this before “and two, I represent this baseball team that has meant so much to me for so many years and what an honor it is,” said San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken.
California native Alyssa Nakken has certainly taken her time to get here, from her years as a star softball player at Sacramento State to a dream internship for her beloved Giants in 2014, to working off the beaten track. field with the team before becoming a coach.
“One of my supervisors at the time asked me a question like, ‘Okay, so if you could have a role here in this organization, what would it be? I told him that I did not see him yet. I know it’s here, but I just don’t see it,” she said.
Of course, Nakken couldn’t see “coach” as a possible title at that time.
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“It never crossed my mind because I’ve never seen a woman in that position,” she says.
But that all changed when the Giants hired Gabe Kapler as manager, who built a new coaching staff with an open mind.
“I think there will always be question marks because people don’t quite understand how valuable diversity can be in leadership positions and we believe that diversity and winning are very much linked,” explains Kapler.
For Kapler, hiring Nakken came down to her being the best person for the job.
“I think, first and foremost, as I mentioned, she’s a great connector and communicator, so she can see the issues that arise and think about how to solve the problems so that we can be good at solving them. these issues. Regardless, she’s as hard of a worker as I have been and she’s more than willing to take on any task and she’s an excellent task performer,” he says of Nakken.
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Nakken says the job offer for the assistant coach position came as a surprise.
After happily accepting it, she made history by becoming MLB’s first female coach.
This big step made the headlines and drew some criticism.
“I don’t feel any kind of extra pressure. I think in this game there is so much pressure, you have to compete at the highest level every night for a very long season, so it’s a lot of pressure. I work with and I work for Kap, and so you know he’s the leader that we work with and that we work for. We really trust his leadership and yes, he puts pressure on us to show up every day and that we raise and raise the bar for ourselves and each other,” Nakken says.
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Nakken also says there’s an upside to more women being hired in MLB, on and off the diamond.
“Yeah, absolutely…I think it’s just silly that for so long they’ve only pulled 50% from a pool of applicants. So when you expand your network, you have so much more opportunities to select the best person for this role, so I think teams are naturally going to see how much of a competitive advantage you can have by adding diversity to your staff in your clubhouse,” she says.
Hiring more diverse candidates, whether it’s life experience, race, or gender, is what both Nakken and Kapler believe ultimately makes for a winning team.
“I think there’s a proof of concept here. I think I would say that, I think our players would say that, I think our coaching staff would say that she’s just been an amazing addition. to our clubhouse and the field when she’s there and to our staff in general, she’s made us a better baseball team,” Kapler says.
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For all the girls and women now inspired by Nakken’s big league movement, she says it all came down to her always being herself and staying true to her values.
“Before my first spring training, the best advice I got was not to try to be the type of coach you’re not. And that sounds simple, but I think about it every day. And I’m really glad it’s just simple advice, because it makes everything less overwhelming,” says Nakken.
The Giants recently held a seminar for some local college softball teams at Oracle Park.
The goal was to expose them to different areas of the game.
Nakken says one of those women has already interviewed for a job in another team’s scouting department.
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