When Minor League spring training starts in 2021, Bianca Smith will make history as the first Black female coach in professional baseball. She was hired by the Boston Red Sox organization in January and can't wait to get started.
"Baseball has been my favorite sport since I was three," Smith told Yahoo Finance's The Next: 21 to watch in 2021. She played softball at Dartmouth College, where she started thinking about a career in sports. She went on to get a law degree and an MBA, in part, so she could “spend more time” working with the Case Western Reserve University baseball team where she was studying. Smith credits her parents for encouraging her to stick with what might have seemed like an unlikely success story.
"We all grew up with mentality that you do what you love," she recalled. "And the money will come. So don't worry about that. Just as long as you're enjoying what you're doing. My mom used to say all the time: You spend the majority of your life working, you might as well enjoy what you're doing.' "
Smith does love her job and says she's received more support than opposition throughout her career. That said, she's had her fair share of discrimination and stereotypical comments along the way.
"I've had the, 'Are you the equipment manager, are you the trainer? Are you just the regular manager? Are you a player's girlfriend?' I've even had, 'Are you a player's mother? Like these kids are five or four years younger than me; that makes no sense. And I'm in uniform. What makes you think I'm the mom?" she remembered.
Smith says those comments and others have "just fueled" her. "Never give up. If this is your passion, and this is something you want to do with your life, it's going to be hard work. I mean anything worth doing is going to be hard. But it's worth it in the end."
See Also: THE NEXT: 21 to watch in 2021
The endgame for Smith is a coaching job in the major leagues. With Smith's hiring this year, Kim Ng's general manager role at the Miami Marlins, and Vanderbilt football player Sarah Fuller becoming the first woman to score in a Power 5 college conference, women are making strides in men's sports like never before. Smith says there's more to come.
"As more women show that gender doesn't matter, that we actually can do these jobs, more teams are going to be willing to look at more women," she believes. "This is where our representation also comes in. I do realize that a lot of women who might be interested in this game, or any sport, they might not be applying for these jobs, because they're also telling themselves, 'There's no way I can get this,' either because nobody else has done it or, you know, 'I'm just a woman, nobody's gonna listen to me.' Now that they're seeing this. More women are going to be more willing to actually apply and try for these positions, and that's going to give teams an opportunity to bring in more women."
Jen Rogers is an anchor for Yahoo Finance Live. Follow her on Twitter @JenSaidIt.
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