Police Arrested 120 Anti-Racism Protesters in Omaha, and Barely Anybody’s Speaking About It : politics

Police Arrested 120 Anti-Racism Protesters in Omaha, and Barely Anybody’s Speaking About It : politics

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Alyssa Nakken, MLB’s first female coach: ‘It’s my responsibility to stay true’

LIVE: Isolation time raised to 10 days Charlie Puth sitting on unreleased song with Zayn Malik © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: John G Mabanglo/EPA When new San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler told Alyssa Nakken he was adding her to the baseball operations staff for a jack-of-all-trades role spanning player development she had no clue she was making history. Nakken was ecstatic to receive an offer after months of plotting a returning to the department where she had started her career with the Giants five years earlier. During the transition from outgoing manager Bruce Bochy, Nakken proactively knocked on the doors of Giants executives, asking myriad practical and philosophical questions on the direction of the franchise, deepening her high-level relationships along the way.
© Photograph: John G Mabanglo/EPA Alyssa Nakken greets San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence with an elbow tap during a game against the Oakland A’s. “In those conversations, I was able to talk about myself and where I saw myself fitting in and where I was mentally and professionally at that point,” Nakken told the Guardian last week.
Nakken took nuggets from those conversations and eventually proposed a job that married her vast organizational experience with specific skills she thought could benefit Kapler in his first year in charge. The only thing she didn’t attach to her proposal was a job title.
Nakken also had a chance to directly share her vision and institutional knowledge with Kapler. She says they never discussed gender or job titles or shattering glass. But as Nakken, a softball star at Sacramento State, naturally sprinkled in her coaching philosophy and baseball acumen along with more pointed details about helping with player development, Kapler became increasingly impressed. His vision on how to best utilize Nakken soon crystalized.
Related: Katie Sowers: ‘The 49ers didn’t hire me as a coach to make a point’
Kapler’s meeting to offer Nakken a job in baseball operations was wrapping up when he remembered to share one minor detail. “Oh, and your official job title is going to be assistant coach,” he told Nakken, explaining that “coach” seemed the most appropriate title for the role she was about to fill. A stunned Nakken looked at Kapler, let out a “holy shit” and just like that the 30-year-old became the first full-time female coach in Major League Baseball’s 113-year history.
“Simply, I think she’s going to be a great coach,” Kapler said shortly after the hire. “Merit and the ability to be a great coach trumps all.”
Kapler sensed Nakken’s ability through their meetings and her merit was apparent in her resume. A softball prodigy who played on a 12 and under team at age nine, Nakken went on to become a three-time All-Conference first baseman and four-time Academic All-American at Sac State.
After getting her foot in the door with the Giants in 2014 she never took it off the pedal. In addition to her baseball operations internship, she helped Giants CEO Larry Baer plan postseason travel and write his parade speech during the Giants’ World Series run. She then advised the team’s general counsel before settling into marketing and strategy initiatives for the Giants’ health and wellness programs in recent years. Nakken attributes a willingness to embrace any role and excel as the secret to her success, especially in a career where she knows thousands of people would swap places with her in a heartbeat.
When Nakken joined Kapler’s staff of 13 coaches, the largest in MLB, she brought that same cocktail of flexibility and proactiveness. Her role spans everything from analytics to throwing batting practice to chatting with players to scouting opponents to baserunning. She does travel with the team but will typically not be in uniform during the regular season as MLB rules only allow eight coaches in the dugout.
© Provided by The Guardian Alyssa Nakken: ‘I felt ready and I feel kind proud of myself for being so ready’. Photograph: Mark J Terrill/AP Within weeks of beginning her historic role, Nakken earned widespread respect among coaches and players. Toward the end of the Giants’ first iteration of Spring Training in March, which was cut short due to Covid-19, Kapler and first-base coach Antoan Richardson started discussing a plan for Nakken to coach an exhibition game at first base.
“Quite honestly, I wasn’t ready at that time. I was still soaking in this new role getting my feet under me, getting comfortable with the players and all of that,” Nakken said.
Everything changed once the team (and the world) went into quarantine. Nakken spent much of her shelter time under Richardson’s tutelage, soaking up every aspect of coaching he was willing to share.
By the end of “Summer Camp,” MLB’s official term for Spring Training 2.0, Nakken had grown more comfortable in the job. Last Monday, Richardson pulled her aside ahead of the team’s exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics to deliver some news – she would come in to coach first-base during the seventh inning.
“With the work during quarantine and all the reps and focus on baseball during the split squad games and focus on baserunning, I felt ready and I feel kind proud of myself for being so ready for that moment,” she said.
Nakken thus broke yet another barrier by becoming the first woman to coach on the field in an MLB game.
The game was televised and clips of her making more history went viral. As Nakken trotted out to first base she understood the significance of the moment but she had two other prevailing thoughts looming 1) Did she have all the signs and scenarios embedded in her mind? 2) Were her parents watching? Yes and yes.
Related: Giants manager Kapler kneels for anthem as team also make female coaching history
Nakken has been met with an overload of positivity while also shielding from trolls and misogynists by staying far away from social media. Young girls lined the fences at Spring Training 1.0. Tennis icon Billie Jean King sent her a photo, a gesture Nakken still can’t find the words to describe. But she gets particularly emotional talking about the overwhelming support she has received from Giants players.
Congrats @AlyssaNakken becoming the FIRST EVER! I’m honored to share the field with you 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/gpdRjDevXy
— Mauricio Dubon (@Mauriciodubon10) July 21, 2020 Right fielder Hunter Pence showed up to Oracle Park last Tuesday and paid Nakken the ultimate form of respect by tipping his cap to her and yelling out “congratulations.” Shortstop Mauricio Dubon shared a photo of himself with Nakken and sought her out to talk about what it means to be a first. Dubon is the first Major Leaguer from Honduras, a title he carries with much pride.
Nakken is smart enough to understand her unique platform. There has been a sprinkling of female coaches in professional baseball and she certainly hopes other managers will follow in Kapler’s footsteps and soon open the floodgates. In 2015, the Oakland A’s brought in Justine Siegal as an instructor for Oakland’s instructional team. Tina Flew Whitlock (St Louis Cardinals), Rachel Balkovec (New York Yankees), Rachel Holden (Chicago Cubs) and Veronica Alvaraz (A’s) were all recently hired to minor league coaching positions.
But no woman has ever held a coaching position in baseball as visible and prominent as Nakken’s. She says that she’ll probably one day use the megaphone of social media to broadcast her values and more directly advocate for causes she cares about, including the empowerment of young girls. But for now she’s simply focused on trying to make the Giants better and leading by example.
“I do understand [my role] and we’re all role models. People are always going to look up to you. It’s just that right now I have quite a few more eyes on me and I understand if I stay true to me, these girls, these boys, these people will be inspired by the possibilities. It’s my responsibility to stay true to that.”
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