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Celebrating Women & Girls In Sports

Celebrating Women & Girls In Sports

The Pioneer For Women In Baseball

Women are on the rise in the sports world, breaking barriers in all areas of male-dominated professional leagues–a concept that Justine Siegal is quite familiar with. Many professional sports coaches earn their stripes through playing the game, finding their way to the big leagues, and making a name for themselves. In most cases, however, women are not afforded such an opportunity.

 

Women are on the rise in the sports world, breaking barriers in all areas of male-dominated professional leagues–a concept that Justine Siegal is quite familiar with. Many professional sports coaches earn their stripes through playing the game, finding their way to the big leagues, and making a name for themselves. In most cases, however, women are not afforded such an opportunity. 

When Siegal was 16, she was determined to become a college baseball coach, but her path to get there had to be cut out of thick woods that no woman had managed to break through. A Ph.D. in Sport Psychology from Springfield College would put Siegal on a pedestal that college and professional baseball teams had no choice but to acknowledge.

In 2008, she became an Assistant Coach for the Springfield College baseball team, in 2009 she became the first woman in professional baseball as a first-base coach for the Brockton Rox, and in 2011 she was given the opportunity to throw batting practice for the Cleveland Indians during spring training. 2015, however, would be the year she broke through Major League Baseball, as the Oakland A’s offered her a coaching position in their instructional league. “This was a great moment,” she said in a statement to MLB. “I feel qualified for this job. I have a lot to learn, but I feel I’ve worked my way up the ranks. I can’t stress enough how thankful I am for the opportunity.” From there she went on to become a Mental Performance Coach for Team Israel in 2016, and serve as a pro coach in Japan and Mexico in 2019.

She honed on the importance of her Ph.D. and how it paid off for her in the long run. “Since then, I’ve been able to coach at the college and pro level,” she said to MLB, “They will listen to you when you know what you’re doing and you can make them a better player and show that you care about them.” Although the majority of male coaches in professional athletics do not need a Ph.D. to prove their knowledge of the sport, Siegal knew it was what could help her open the door for women who will come after her. 

Siegal’s achievements have allowed her to wear many masks. She has been a keynote speaker, a baseball coach, a mental performance coach, and now, a TV baseball consultant for the new show, “A League of Their Own.” Arguably her most important role, however, is within her nonprofit organization, “Baseball for All.” The program provides girls with the opportunity to play and coach baseball, expanding the horizon for future women in the sport.

Siegal’s dedication to baseball has unsurprisingly made her an inductee of the National Women’s Sports Museum and an Everyday Hero by espnW, all while her jersey hangs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, PA. Women like Justine Siegal set the foundation for future generations, and her recognition is wholly deserved.

Photo Credit: Unsplash, Instagram

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