Former Sacramento State softball star Alyssa Nakken is making Major League Baseball history by becoming the first full-time female coach in the league.
On Jan. 16, San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler rounded out his coaching staff by hiring Nakken and Mark Hallberg as team assistants, MLB.com reported.
Nakken, who was a three-time all-conference first baseman at Sacramento State and a four-time Academic All-American, was not the only woman considered for the role. According to MLB.com, the Giants also interviewed Rachel Balkovec, who was hired by the Yankees in November to serve as a Minor League hitting coach.
After graduating from Sacramento State, Nakken earned her master's degree in sports management from the University of San Francisco (USF). In 2014, she joined the Giants as an intern, where she oversaw the organization's health and wellness initiatives.
Nola Agha, associate professor of the sports management program at USF, took to Twitter to congratulate Nakken on her new role: "[...] the Giants are lucky to have her."
Kapler, who joined the Giants in 2019, said in a press release that, Nakken and Hallberg "will now focus their talents on helping to build a winning culture in the clubhouse" in their new roles.
"In every organization, environment affects performance, and baseball clubhouses are no different," he added. "That's why in addition to assisting the rest of the coaching staff on the field, Mark and Alyssa will focus on fostering a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team."
Though Nakken's hire is a historic move in the right direction, the MLB still has a long way to go in terms of creating an equal playing field for women. According to the 2019 Racial and Gender Report Card released by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, the MLB received a C grade for gender diversity, placing it below the NFL and NBA, who received a C+ and B grade, respectively. In the MLB, women make up just 30% of the organization's professional staff.
Renee Tirado, MLB's former chief diversity officer, told NPR in 2019 that she recognizes the league's need for improvement. "Look, I think there's no sugar-coating this," she said. "There's a lot to do."
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