SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – If you watched a San Francisco Giants game this season, jersey No. 92 might have caught your attention.
It belongs to Alyssa Nakken, the first woman to coach in Major League Baseball.
Before Nakken took a coaching position with the Giants, she worked in the front office for six years with baseball operations.
KRON4’s digital sports reporter Kirsten Moran sat down with Nakken to discuss her first year as a Coach.
“It feels pretty remarkable just the experience in itself was something that I never dreamed was possible. It was so much fun and full of challenges and I just felt like grew so much throughout the season,“ Nakken said.
Shortly after taking on the new role, Coach learned that with a new job, comes new obstacles.
“Just getting comfortable was a pretty big challenge…. I think when you’re comfortable you know it’s time to move on. Even though it was a challenge, I’m super appreciative of it,” said Coach.
“The whole season in itself and everything that we’ve experienced as a country and globally in 2020, has been full of challenges that we weren’t expecting this year. So to have that on top of the season and this having been my first time in this role, it was just a lot of layers to it so. Just kind of navigating through all the curve balls that were thrown our way every single day this season was a challenge, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
So how did Nakken mentally prepare for the challenges this season?
“I took it one day at a time,” Nakken said. “Right in the beginning I was a little overwhelmed because I was thinking too far ahead and I was thinking too much about what other people were gonna think.”
With the support of the organization, Giant’s head coach Gabe Kapler, friends and family, Nakken was allowed to have conversations and the support she needed to persevere.
“They all just said, ‘You belong here you deserve this. You’ve worked hard to get here don’t stop. Continue to move forward every single day and hold on to the values that mean the most to you. You have gotten you to where you are, don’t try to be the coach that you’re not and just have fun. Let the shoulders relax a little. Don’t be so tense.’ ”
Nakken adds, “It was conversations like that that really helped me prepare for each day and go in to each day as myself and not as anybody else. Again I think I’m so lucky with the support system that I have I was able from the very beginning.”
Coach says that by being able to have uncomfortable conversations with people she trusts it goes a long way in preparing her for this big change in her career.
The San Francisco Giants unfortunately didn’t make it to the post season this year, but despite the season outcome Nakken feels the team has a lot to look forward to in the future.
“There’s a lot of good to build upon and a lot of lessons that we all learned. Most of our staff was new to this organization. We had a healthy mix of veterans and younger players and as the season went on, we certainly found a really nice rhythm of working together and developing our game strategy and just the communication flow,” said Nakken.
“I think with any organization, or with any sort of new group, new staff, new team, that first year is just learning how to work with one another. And so now in my opinion, I feel pretty confident as a staff and as a team we’ve really learned to work well together. I think I’m just excited to use that momentum and build on that momentum as we enter spring training in 2021.”
Nakken will go down in history as an iconic figure, but also be a stepping stone for women working in sports everywhere.
Coach shares advice to women and girls wanting to follow in her footsteps.
“Not all paths to your career or your dreams need to be extremely linear or need to look exactly like the persons that are in the role that you want. I think that there’s so much joy in the journey of what your next step is. So often life comes at you and there’s events that happen and you need to make change you need to adapt. Sometimes you need to make a step to the side, instead of forward. I think it’s important to not get discouraged by that and rather get encouraged by it. Because you’re probably going to learn something that’s new and different that will ultimately help you in that more specialized role that you’re looking for.”
Nakken adds, “The second thing that I think that is important is establishing routines, but not so much that if you get off of it for a day you beat yourself up. I think it’s important to establish a routine. Maintain a fairly healthy diet, get exercise, like some of the basic stuff. Living a pretty healthy life will really set you up for being your best self at work or at the field.”
One word to describe the journey, “Competitive,” Nakken said.
“It’s been competitive growing up as an athlete. You’re competing everyday whether that’s in school, in a game, on the weekends, at softball tournaments.
“As you get into school or college, you really start to compete with yourself in the classroom and the field and I think those are important lessons to learn as you get into your career and in the professional world. It’s certainly been a competitive journey from the beginning. I’m competing with myself more often then anybody else.”
Nakken went on to say that even though she was the only woman in the locker room, “I felt so respected every single day I was in there.”