On November 3, High School Convocation featured guest speaker Rachel Balkovec, the first female in the 146-year history of professional baseball to hold the title of minor league manager, after joining the Tampa Tarpons nearly a year ago. Balkovec spoke to the students about how the Academy’s mission statement resonated with her personal goals, in particular leading a culturally aware, spiritually rich life. As a Catholic school graduate herself, Balkovec decided in her junior year that she wanted her future path to include learning new cultures and pushing herself to try new things. Her presentation also focused on grit, taking risks, and learning how to fail.
With that mindset, Balcovec left a career in professional baseball as a strength and conditioning coach to pursue a second master’s degree. She studied biomechanics in the Netherlands where she researched eye tracking with the foremost experts in the world. With that knowledge, in 2019 she became the first female hitting coach in professional baseball with the Yankee’s minor league organization. Demonstrating her own advice to leave the comfort zone and make independent, unbiased life decisions, Balkovec told of the breaks she has taken in her career to teach English in a village in Laos and hike solo through Italy.
Asked what it is like to be the only female in a male-dominated industry, Balcovec explained she is not uncomfortable because she knows she has worked hard to earn her current position and that makes her an equal with her peers in the organization. Her confidence comes from pushing herself to try new things and not be afraid to learn and grow through failure. Influenced by her parents, teachers and coaches through her personal experience, she considers herself both a mentor and leader of her team.