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I counted on my fingers the other day, and it wasn’t that long ago I didn’t have many female mentors in the sports media industry. Now, it’s an overwhelming amount.

Because of them, my journey, while still bumpy, was a little easier. They paved the way if you will. But the cliche holds true. The bumps are still there, surrounded by shards of glass from the shattering of ceilings. I’m so thankful for the stories I’ve told and written about these women, and those who supported me along the way.

For International Women’s Day (which should be celebrated every day), here’s a list of people who have made an impact on me.

Kim Ng, Miami Marlins general manager

It had been countless articles of me scribing that Ng *came close* to being named the San Diego Padres general manager. She *almost* had the same role with the San Francisco Giants.

I finally was able to say she not only got a job as the Miami Marlins GM, but it was about damn time. Not too long after, I was standing at the Oakland Coliseum holding my iPhone 13 Max up to her. I was conducting an interview with the woman I looked up to for so many years.

I remember asking her why she didn’t give up.

“I did, several times,” Ng told me as she laughed during an episode on ‘A’s Cast’ last season. “But you get back up on the horse. What are you just going to do — quit? That’s just not an option. You just get back at it. This industry is what I love, the game I love. You just dust yourself off — same as what we tell these guys when they get sent down, you just dust yourself off, take a little time, and get back at it.”

Before her recent position, she was a tomboy from Queens who wanted to create equal opportunities for female-athlete students. She interviewed for a baseball operations internship with the Chicago White Sox in 1990 where then assistant GM Dan Evans hired her after being impressed with her smarts.

Ng then had accumulated over 20 years of front-office experience including time with the New York Yankees where she worked with Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter. When he became CEO and part-owner of the Marlins, he made one phone call to fill the head of operations position.

It was Ng.

She had become the first female GM in the history of major North American men’s pro team sports and the first East Asian American to lead an MLB team.

Veronica Alvarez, Coordinator of Player Development, Oakland A’s

Yeah, I have someone right in my backyard.


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In addition to her recent role, Alvarez has been a coach in the A’s organization since 2019. Last season, she filled in for the High-A affiliate Lansing Lugnuts’ manager Phil Pohl where she earned her first win. She made history as the first woman to manage the team.

For her, more than just the game, she wanted to make sure little girls saw her in that role, encouraging them they can do it too. She also works with MLB Develops and events with a focus on girls baseball.

On a personal note, she’s very approachable. I’ve never left an interaction with her in anything but a positive move.

Alvarez finished her playing career in 2016, Alvarez made her managerial debut with the Women’s National Team in 2019. She previously served as an assistant coach after she played for the team five different times at catcher.

Her journey began when she told her mother, “no,” to ballet and “yes,” to her brother’s team while she was waiting in the stands to be put in the game.

Melanie Newman, PxP, sideline reporter — Baltimore Orioles, MASN, ESPN, MLB Network

I once called Melanie Newman on the phone when I wanted to quit the industry. She told me not to.

One hour later, I got my first big sports media gig. I owe her everything.

In 2020, Newman became the first woman to broadcast an Orioles game in franchise history as well as Baltimore’s first full-time female broadcaster in team history.

Before that, she made stops with ESPN covering the ACC Network, the World Axe Throwing League and American Cornhole on ESPN, Liberty University through ESPN and LFSN, GameDay Radio and Major League Baseball Data Operations. In the minor leagues, she held roles including play-by-play duties with the High-A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox as well.

Ronnie Gajownik, manager, Hillsboro Hops

I had recently written about Gajownik when she served as the Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach recently in a spring training game. She was able to learn from the best in manager Torey Lovullo. He embraced the moment just as much as she did.

“It’s cool to take a step back and realize how far women have come,” Gajownik told the media following the game.

Gajownick had previously served as the video coordinator for the Hops during the 2021 season and was the first base coach for the Amarillo Sod Poodles in 2022.

Andrea Kremer, HBO Real Sports

I met Andrea Kremer when she interviewed me for a piece on HBO’s Real Sports. It wasn’t the most fun subject to talk about, but in the midst of her interviews, I took away a lot of the ways she conducted herself and the way she asked me questions.

She sent me a thank you note later on and offered to be a resource for me. She’s also one of the most fabulous reporters I’ve ever seen.

Kremer has earned many Emmy awards across her illustrious career. She made history as ESPN’s first female correspondent in 1989 and her resume includes stops as a correspondent for the NFL Network, CBS, and over a decade as a sideline reporter for NBC for Sunday Night Football coverage. She also led the first all-female NFL broadcast booth with Hannah Storm at Amazon.

She’s covered more than 20 Super Bowls, The Olympics and NCAA men’s basketball tournaments.

Dani Wexelman, host/analyst, MLB Network Radio — Sirius XM, SNY

Before seeing her in front of the camera, I witnessed what Dani Wexelman could do as a five-tool player on the production side. She showed so many women that there are multiple roles available for those who might not want to take a path toward the sidelines.


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She also doesn’t stop at baseball. She’s dipped her toe in women’s basketball and lacrosse.

She hosts multiple shows across MLB Network Radio in addition to her college baseball coverage for ESPN which includes sideline and play-by-play responsibilities. Wexelman also serves as a contributor at SNY with extensive New York Mets and Yankees coverage.

Jessica Mendoza, ESPN

Before I had a laptop or microphone in front of me, I was playing baseball and softball. I was also glued to the television screen watching Team USA softball absolutely dominate.

Jess Mendoza (and Vicky Galindo) were who I wanted to emulate as a softball player.

Once I saw Mendoza become a baseball analyst, it gave me a sigh of relief — I could breathe again knowing — hmm, maybe I’ll be able to talk about sports for a living.

She was the first of my era to show me women deserve to be here. I owe so much of my career to her.

Mendoza was a four-time collegiate First Team All-American at Stanford and was a member of the US women’s national softball team from 2004-2010.

She served as an analyst on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and became the first female to do so during the World Series on any national broadcast platform. She also had a brief role with the Mets as a senior advisor.

All of these women are some of the examples of individuals who have broken down barriers and created opportunities for women throughout sports and media because of their accomplishments and achievements. Their examples, and that of many others, will inspire future generations of women to know they too can make a difference playing and analyzing the sports they love.”

About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for and NBC Sports Bay Area.