Justine Siegal was just hired as a guest coach for the Oakland A's, making her the first woman to coach a major league baseball team. Siegal has a long history of breaking barriers to women in baseball: She was the first woman to throw batting practice to a MLB team, the first woman to coach a collegiate baseball team, and the first woman to coach professional baseball when she became a coach for the Brockton Rox in 2009. Not to mention, she's also brainy, with a PhD in Sports Psychology from Springfield College. "I’ll do my best every day to help out any way I can, from carrying water to throwing BP to using my Ph.D," Siegal told The San Francisco Chronicle.
As the founder of the foundation Baseball for All, which provides opportunities for girls to play baseball, Siegal is passionate about helping other women participate in this male-dominated sport. She told The Chronicle that "men are surprised to have a woman coach, but when they realize you know what you’re talking about and that you care, you fit right in with the rest of the staff.”
With more athletes like Siegal treading territory previously unoccupied by women, more people are accepting women in all sorts of sports roles, and more women are viewing sports as an unattainable profession for themselves. Here are four more women coaches who are enabling this progress.
1. Becky Hammon
Hammon competed on the Russian Olympic basketball team, the San Antonio Stars, and the WNBA team New York Liberty before becoming assistant coach for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. She is the NBA's first female full-time assistant coach and the Summer League's first female head coach, helping the Spurs claim this year's Las Vegas Summer League title.
Lieberman earned the nickname "Lady Magic" for her accomplishments as a professional basketball player, which some have likened to Magic Johnson's. She was the youngest basketball player to ever win an Olympic medal, turning 18 during the 1976 games in Montreal, where the American team brought home the silver medal. She currently coaches for the NBA team the Sacramento Kings.
3. Jen Welter
Welter became the first woman to coach for the NFL this summer, when she was hired as a training camp/preseason intern coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Before she took this position, Welter spent 14 years playing women's pro football and even played with the men's team Texas Revolution, becoming the first woman to play men's professional football in a contact position.
Mauresmo was perviously the Women's Tennis Association's World No. One player, so it's no wonder Scottish tennis player Andy Murray hired her as his coach during the 2014 Wimbledon championships. Mauresmo also won women's singles at Wimbledon herself in 2006 and coached Wimbledon's 2013 women's champion Marion Bartoldi.
These women prove that the skills required to succeed as sports coaches are not gender-specific. And as more people see them succeeding, their success will hopefully pave the way for other women who are passionate about enriching people's lives through sports.