The A’s Hire First Female Coach


Justine Siegal takes a momentous step forward for female coaches in male-dominated sports. (Courtesy of Daigo Fujiwaravia/Via Flickr)


On Sept. 28, 2015, Justine Siegal made history when she accepted a coaching position with the Oakland A’s, making her the first female coach in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. Siegal took the position of guest instructor of the A’s instructional league Oct. 4–17.

Siegal holds a PhD in sport and exercise psychology from Springfield College, and an M.A. from Kent State in sports studies. In addition to this, Siegel serves as president for the non-profit organization Baseball For All, the purpose of which is to provide baseball to all children and youth in America, with a focus on assisting young women.

With Siegal’s background and training, it made sense for the A’s to hire her to assist in the training of younger members of the team. Moreover, Siegal is no stranger to making history. In 2009, she became the first female to coach for a professional baseball team when she acted as the first base coach for the minor league team Brockton Rox. In addition, two years later, Siegel threw batting practice for several MLB teams, such as the A’s and the New York Mets. More recently, Siegel worked with a myriad of teams, including the A’s, to help educate about and prevent domestic violence in the MLB. With her new position, Siegel will work with players not only on mechanics in batting practice, but will also help develop the players’ knowledge on the mental aspects of the game through various classroom sessions and presentations. Through this position, Siegal is really showing that baseball is for all people.

Justine Siegal is the newest in an increasingly large list of first female coaches in major league sports. This past summer, Becky Hammon became the first female coach in the National Basketball League (NBA) when the San Antonio Spurs hired her as an assistant coach. Hammon coached the Spurs’ summer league team to a championship, and many now see her as a legitimate head-coaching candidate. Hammon has stated that the idea which has guided her through achieving this great accomplishment is “Just because something’s never been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Leadership has no gender.” Furthermore, the Arizona Cardinals made history with the hiring of Jennifer Welter as an assistant coaching intern for the summer. In addition to this, the National Football League employs one full-time female referee, and the NBA employs two, making them the only female referees in professional sports today. In the National Hockey League (NHL), the highest position a woman has been offered is a skating coach for a few different NHL teams, which was offered to a woman named Barbara Underhill. Furthermore, there is currently one woman serving as a coach for a Minor League affiliate of a Major League Soccer team: Marguerite Ferrell, who acts as head of coach recruitment for the New York Red Bulls’ affiliate.

When asked by ESPN what her advice for women and girls in baseball would be, Siegal responded by saying “Don’t give up on your dream, and be who you want to be. Baseball is a place for all, and there is a place for everyone.” Following this, Siegal received an outpouring of support from many of her fellow female coaches across various sports and leagues. Justine Siegel’s position may not have lasted very long, but it represents an upward, positive change in the hiring of female coaches in major league sports.