The celebration of women throughout this month highlights the historic figures who have created a seat at the table for women in a variety of professions. The role of women within the game of baseball in particular, has drastically evolved over the course of history. The infamous role they played in the continuation of baseball within World War ll by taking on the positions of men within the game created opportunity that eventually faded after the conclusion of the war.
However, in recent years, baseball has seen monumental change in the type of positions that women hold-roles that have been considered untraditional for them to take on in the past. Kim Ng, Rachel Balkovic, Alyssa Nakken, Jessica Mendoza, and Melanie Newman amongst many other powerful names have assumed roles within front offices, coaching staffs, and media. Their success within these roles has broken barriers for women worldwide-especially for those who will follow in years to come.
The Kettleers have made great strides in promoting the role of women within the organization between the women on staff and the interns who join the team each summer. Through hosting players, holding positions on the board, and mentoring interns, four women in particular within the community of Cotuit continue to make an impact on the success and culture of the Kettleers.
For Trish Hill, her family first became involved in the organization when they began hosting players-an experience that she notes has been a “joy” through the relationships they have fostered since welcoming Kettleers into their family each season. Along with this role, Hill works in merchandise while also stepping in to help in a variety of roles for the Kettleers year-round. Her upbeat personality and willingness to help ease the transition for both players and interns as they reside in Cotuit for the summer makes her an integral part of the experience players are left with following their time as a Kettleer.
Sue Pina began as a secretary for the Kettleers organization but soon assumed the role as an assistant general manager for 14 years before relinquishing that role to work in merchandise. Her experience as a board member began after her son played for the Ketts back in 2001. Following her time as the assistant general manager, Pina says one of the more unique differences in being a woman within a position like hers is ultimately “being accepted for your knowledge”. She continues to say that “once that initial barrier is broken and you make your mark, people usually realize that you know what you’re doing”.
Stacy Wardwell’s impact on the Kettleers organization is evident both on and off the field as she has remained an integral figure in the revitalization of Lowell Park. Through her time serving as the First Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Cotuit Athletic Association along with her professional career in project management, Wardwell brings with her a skillset that has created new opportunities for the organization and ballpark as a whole. Like many others, she began hosting players years ago in 2005 but decided to become more involved through initially assisting with clinics, serving within the housing committee, and then eventually assuming roles as a Vice President and Clinic Coordinator soon after. Wardwell also became involved as a co-chair for the Capital Campaign Projects where she has helped manage the renovations of Lowell Park alongside Coach Roberts within the last few years. The projects she has managed include the renovations of the restrooms, the third base stands and patio areas, the first base stands and bullpen, and the current brick paver walk of champions and field renovations to name a few. These multi-million dollar fundraising projects have been accomplished through her role as a liaison to the town to ensure that all permitting and projects are done effectively. Her professional career as a project manager makes her experience and insight an integral aspect in the projects done at Lowell Park. She mentions that because of her experience in that role in her professional life, it seemed fit that she would take that on within the Kettleers organization as well.
While she continues to contribute her time and efforts into maintaining the success of the organization, she notes one of the most rewarding aspects of her involvement is “watching what the players have worked so hard for ultimately come to fruition.” She continues to say that “being able to watch the amazement in their eyes as they walk into Lowell Park and accomplish their goals is what makes it worth it…it has always been about the players and the community for me.”
Leah Ridpath, a coordinator for the internship program as well as a board member for the Kettleers contributes to the positive culture of the organization by cultivating an atmosphere that empowers the women who join the team each summer. Looking back, Ridpath notes that the number of female interns has steadily increased throughout the years, starting with around five and now roughly projecting 14 to join the team for the upcoming season. She says “close to half of the interns will be ladies and they’re ladies coming into positions that were more traditionally held by men, particularly several aspects of the media team.”
The collaborative nature of the interns she mentors is fueled by the idea that “women bring a unique flavor” too many aspects of the game. “You have to be a force in this industry”, she says. “If you are a force to be reckoned with, you will ultimately succeed in this business”. Great progress has been made in the inclusivity of women within sports as well as within the Cape Cod League in general as Ridpath notes there have been more women within prominent positions and female board members across the league in recent years-a trend she doesn’t anticipate will change anytime soon. She says, “I think women will spearhead a lot of change, and it is very exciting to see”.
As professional baseball continues to progressively approach the idea of women holding positions in front offices and even coaching staffs, it is no doubt that the reality of women taking on these roles will become much more ordinary in years to come. The Kettleers have already begun to progress this feat and acknowledge the women who have come before and who will follow after in contributing to the rich success of Cotuit baseball.
While women eventually fell back into their traditional roles and out of baseball after the conclusion of the war, their place in modern baseball is something that will not waiver but rather continue to grow. Now more than ever, it seems the women are here to stay.