The first annual Women in Baseball panel | Photo by Tim Booth via AP
Advice and inspiration from women who have broken barriers in the male-dominated sports industry
Last Wednesday, the Mariners held their fourth annual Women in Sports panel. I’ve been to this event every year since it started, and always walk away with new insights and ideas. Listening to the panel always makes me so proud of the women who have become successful in the sports world and gives me hope for the women of the future like me who dream of a career in the industry.
This year’s panel was again excellent, featuring women from all different aspects of the sports world. They all had different paths, stories, and advice to share and inspire the current and future generations of women in sports. This year’s panel included:
- Angie Mentink, ROOT Sports reporter and anchor, panel moderator
- Amanda Lee, Mariners Minor League Athletic Trainer
- Jessamyn McIntyre, 710 ESPN Executive Producer and sideline reporter (rugby, college football)
- Kim Ng, Major League Baseball Sr. Vice President, Baseball Operations
- Ingrid Russell-Narcisse, Seattle Mariners Senior Director, Corporate Partnerships
- Heather Tarr, Head Coach for the University of Washington Softball team and the U.S. U-19 National Team
- And a special appearances by Cora Morgan, a 13 year-old baseball all-star from Shoreline, WA
Angie Mentink, former softball and professional baseball standout and current ROOT Sports reporter, started the discussion off by asking the panelists for advice to give to women entering this male-dominated profession. Kim Ng, whose journey has taken her from a Chicago White Sox intern to the MLB office in New York and now to MLB Sr. Vice President of Baseball Operations, emphasized networking, creating opportunities, and preparedness:
“We always have to be thoroughly prepared. We’re unfortunately still at a point where we’re going to have to outshine the guys to get noticed and promoted. You’re going to have to have a voice, stand up for yourself, and make a case for yourself and whatever you’re trying to get across. You’re going to have to have thick, thick skin.”
Jessamyn McIntyre, who landed a job at ESPN after college and is now the Executive Producer at 710 ESPN, also talked about the importance of putting yourself out there. “I just said yes to every opportunity.” She also touched on her personal experience working in a field with few women, noting, “If you make a mistake, it’s because you’re a woman and you don’t belong. If a guy makes a mistake, he made that mistake.” McIntyre conveyed how women have to work much harder to achieve their goals and convince people that they belong in professions not generally dominated by women.
Heather Tarr, currently the Head Softball Coach at UW, shared some advice she had for women currently in positions such as those on this panel. “Continue advocacy because you have to help the person behind you”, she said. “You’ve been pioneers, and now behind you there’s going to be 3 or 4 women who want to do what you do.” Tarr wants to make it clear that it’s important to recognize the women who might be following in your footsteps, and to set a good example for them.
Ingrid Russell- Narcisse, the Mariners’ Senior Director of Corporate Partnership, also emphasized the responsibility of women who have broken through the barriers to help pay it forward. “I love what I do. I’m so grateful and thankful for all the women who’ve put me on this path”, says Russell-Narcisse. She agrees that having powerful women to look up to is important and can help provide young girls the tools they need to succeed. “It would help if we had more women in leadership positions,” she says. According to NPR, only 30% of the current MLB employees are women and only 188 are in operational roles such as scouting or negotiating contracts. We are also still yet to have the first female manager.
Even though we are seeing more women join the ranks of professional baseball, that doesn’t mean the previous physical spaces of baseball are prepared for their entry. Amanda Lee mentioned that many of the places she has to go during her job as a Minor League Athletic Trainer, such as the clubhouse, aren’t built for women. Lee is the first female on-field staff person in the Mariners’ organization. “I’m the only female around, ever,” says Lee. If she has to use the bathroom during the game, she can’t go to the locker room, but instead to the bathrooms on the main concourse. She even has to wait to use the showers in the umpire locker room once they clear out because she can’t use the one’s in the team locker room.
And an exciting addition to the panel was special guest Cora Morgan, a 13 year-old baseball all-star from Shoreline, Washington. Morgan was one of the 96 girls selected to be part of MLB’s Trailblazer Series, a baseball tournament for girls that takes place in the Los Angeles area. “I play baseball because it’s where I belong,” says Morgan. “It’s my life, It’s everything about me.” Cora represents girls all over the world who look up to these women and are hopeful for a future with more women in sports. She, like all of us, hopes that people can learn to be more open-minded and accepting. “Baseball is a fun game and everyone should be allowed to play,” says Morgan.
I wasn’t that much older than Cora when I attended the first panel. I was an incoming freshman in high school and so amazed that the Mariners were doing an event like this for girls just like me. I was one of the youngest in the crowd, all of us packed into “The ‘Pen” on an unusually hot August afternoon. The next two years we moved into different rooms inside the stadium as the event started to gain a following. And as the audience grew each year, so did I. I walked into the first panel as a young girl not knowing what to expect or even what questions to ask, and I walked away (or got up from my desk at home) from this year’s panel with an article about it published on Lookout Landing.
I’m so grateful for this event for so many reasons, but the main one being that it led me to where I am today. The second annual Mariners Women in Baseball panel was where I met Rebecca Hale, Mariners Senior Director of Public Information, and Angie Mentink, who both encouraged me to introduce myself to Kate Preusser, our fearless leader, hard-working editor, and so much more. I’m thankful that Kate had enough faith in that young girl to give me this opportunity to be a part of Lookout Landing and pursue my passion in sports.
I encourage you to watch the full panel here and listen to all of these strong, powerful women who are making their own path in the industry and showing that not only do women belong in the sports world, they are here to stay.