Tonight I got to see something is haven’t had a chance to see before, female manager.
Rachel Balkovec is the first woman to manage a major league affiliated team. She is managing the Tampa Tarpons, the Low-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
This hits me right in my heart. As a little girl I wanted to be a hockey player. I loved Bobby Clarke and the Broad Street Bullies, the Philadelphia Phillies of the 1970s. I even tried to knock out my front teeth to look just like him.
I started skating on the ice rink my dad would build in the back yard at just 16 months old, as the years went on, I would skate until my mother would make me come in because it was just too cold to stay out. Every time, I’d have a melt down because I didn’t want to stop.
It was about the time I turned 5 when my dad sat me down and told me, “Girls don’t play hockey, they figure skate.” I could love the game as a fan as much as I wanted, but no more dreams of playing.
I embraced figure skating but never gave up the dream of playing hockey. When I got to high school there was a new team in town “Chicks with Sticks”…a team of women who played at the local rink with the guys. My dad started to come around and by the time I started college (I commuted) my dad relented and I began to play on his non-contact team.
All it took was one group of women playing at the same level as the guys that got him thinking.
That’s why Rachel Balkovec is important, she helps show what’s possible, that she can do the job just like anyone else. It’s just one step at a time, one person, one position at a time. It just takes that one person to see her and say “I can do it” or “my daughter can do that” to start the change.
I sometimes wonder how things might have been different for me if I’d had a chance to play. By sixth grade, I could out-skate all the other skaters in the figure skating club, even the high school kids. I played street hockey with the guys when I worked at Hershey Park in my late teens/early 20s and kept up running, even though I was much smaller.
Seeing Rachel Balkovec out there made me a little emotional. She’s got that chance, the chance to not only work for her dream, but to open the door for others who also want to chase their dreams too. I’ve be around a long time and while I love that there’s more opportunities, I hope that one day that the only thing that matters is that the best qualified person, no matter what label someone puts on them, gets the job. Soon, may be, soon…