Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Bring up Bianca Smith when talking about women breaking through in men’s sports leagues.

January 14, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( During last year, one of the more notable stories in sports have been women who have made history leading or playing men’s sports. Prior to the beginning of 2021, Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon became the first female acting head coach in NBA history after Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. About a month earlier in college football, Vanderbilt soccer player Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a football game for a Power Five conference team and score in a Power Five football game after kicking an extra point for Vanderbilt football. Arguably at the top of the list of women breaking barriers in men’s sports is Miami Marlins General Manager Kim Ng.

Ng, a longtime Major League Baseball executive, is the first woman to serve as general manager of a team in the Big Four leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball) in North America and the first person of East Asian descent to serve as general manager of an MLB team after being hired in 2020.


It is great that Asian and white women are getting long deserved opportunities to enter male sports leagues and sports organizations. Unfortunately, Black women are often left out of this discussion despite their participation in a variety of sports at the youth, amateur, and professional levels. Thus, it was surprising when Bianca Smith made history earlier this year when the Boston Red Sox hired her as a minor league coach, making her the first Black woman to serve as a professional baseball coach in the sport’s long history. Baseball has been notoriously slower than other sports in terms of diversity and change which makes Smith’s achievement that much more eyebrow-raising. However, Smith has many of the credentials and traits to succeed at her new position.

Bianca Smith played softball at Dartmouth College, an Ivy League institution, where both of her parents also attended. Her intelligence and hard work led to her obtaining a Masters of Business Administration in sports management and an emphasis in organizational behavior from Weatherhead School of Management. She also received a Doctorate of Jurisprudence with an emphasis in sport law from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Smith was also a graduate assistant and director of baseball operations at Case Western Reserve University for five years and has internship experience with two Major League Baseball organizations, the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds. Prior to being hired by the Red Sox organization, she was serving as the assistant coach and hitting coach at Carroll University in Wisconsin since 2018.

The magnitude of the hiring isn’t lost on Bianca Smith as she told the MLB Network, “I think it’s a great opportunity also to kind of inspire other women who are interested in this game. This is not really something I thought about when I was younger. I kind of fell into it being an athlete. So I’m excited to get that chance to show what I can do.” For Black people in white spaces professionally, there is the long-held notion of having to work twice as hard and be twice as good as white people in the same career. Given Bianca Smith’s many successes, she will be up to the task.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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