Eminian: Cardinals minor league strength coordinator breaks gender barrier

From Dave Eminian at the Peoria Journal Star on April 21, 2015:

The St. Louis Cardinals knew exactly what — and who — they were getting when they hired Rachel Balkovec in a groundbreaking moment for professional baseball.

The 26-year-old from Omaha, Neb., is the first female in baseball history to serve as minor league strength and conditioning coordinator for a major league team.

“Just 365 days ago I was a waitress,” said Balkovec, sitting in the weight room at Dozer Park during the Peoria Chiefs homestand in mid-May. “I had this great resume and I contacted major league teams and I never heard back from them.

“My friends and family told me to take a college job working with female athletes. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be in baseball. So I changed my name to Rae on the resume and sent them out again, and sure enough, I heard back from about 10 teams.

“I was hearing from people that teams wouldn’t hire me because I was female. It’s a male-dominated sport. It wasn’t easy getting here. My path has been calculated and deliberate.”

That name change wasn’t necessary for the Cardinals, though, who already knew about Balkovec, who had worked part-time in 2012 for their rookie league Johnson City team.

“She came in with a resume that was better than any we’d seen, and her interview blew everyone away,” Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque said. “She did a great job for us at Johnson City. We went through the process and she was the most qualified person we interviewed (out of more than 100 candidates).”

Read the full article here: http://www.pjstar.com/article/20140530/SPORTS/140539918/10930/SPORTS

Originally published: April 21, 2015. Last Updated: April 21, 2015.