Episode 95 – Rachel Balkovec
Rachel Balkovec is the first female strength and conditioning coach for any major sport within the United States. Rachel is currently with the Houston Astros, and I spoke to her on the eve of Game 6 of the World Series.
Rachel took the prescribed route for education in strength and conditioning. She got her first degree, then the CSCS, and then pursued her first internship. Then she did her second. Eventually, her third…
She’s been through Athletes Performance (now EXOS.) She got into the graduate program at LSU, then did an internship for the St Louis Cardinals–twice. She worked weekends for years, waitressing and helping retirees go to the bathroom.
She referred to Angela Duckworth’s book “Grit” right at the start of this podcast. Grit COULD be the title of this episode.
After so many experiences with athletic training Rachel assumed she was a shoe in to obtain additional internships while she was pursuing another degree. It was at this moment that she realized how hard it would be to make it as a woman in Major League Baseball. After countless attempts to contact teams and submit her resume, she heard nothing. It wasn’t until Rachel changer her name to Rae, that she finally got a call back.
It wasn’t until another internship with the Cardinals that she secured a strength and conditioning coaching position where she now overseas eight minor league teams and roughly 200 players. Now that the Astros have won the World Series, it is all about what they can continue to do to elevate their game and continue their success. It is one thing to get to get to the top but a whole different thing to stay there, according to Rachel.
One of Rachel’s major jobs is to support the minor league teams in foreign countries. Many of the players in Major League baseball come from Latin America and they are signed to teams as young as 16 years of age.
Learn more about Rachel’s current position, future goals, and how she has overcome the gender barrier and broken into Major League baseball in this very special episode!
1:33 – Rachel Balkovec Introduction
4:17 – Rachel’s story, how she made it to the Houston Astro’s
14:50 – The struggle to make it as a woman in Major League Baseball
16:54 – Why won’t major sports teams hire more women?
21:42 – Rachel changes her name to Rae
27:28 – The atmosphere surrounding the Houston Astros
30:49 – The minor leagues of baseball explained.
38:18 – What is it like to deal with young baseball players in Latin America
43:59 – Moving up further within Major League baseball
47:07 – Rachel’s dream to make it the General Manager role
48:23 – Rachel’s philosophy on money
54:20 – How to choose between an internship and a paid position
62:05 – What will it take for Major League baseball to not be so archaic
66:25 – How important are results of the players for a coach’s credibility
72:18 – Creating objective measurements for movement