This week’s episode is part four of the Champion’s Mindset series and I’m talking to Rachel Balkovec, the first female strength and conditioning coach in the history of professional baseball. She is also an entrepreneur and an international speaker.
Rachel has worked as a strength and conditioning coach for organizations such as Arizona State University, Louisiana State University, Los Tigres Del Licey Beisbol and the St. Louis Cardinals. Most recently, she has joined the Houston Astros as their Latin American Strength and Conditioning Coordinator.
“I was discriminated against. Was I bitter? Yes. Am I bitter? No. I just realized that it wasn’t ever me, it was just baseball being ready for it and them thinking that the players couldn’t handle it.”
During Rachel’s first day at her first internship with a professional baseball organization, there was a staff member that singled her presence out. There were preconceived notions that players had to behave differently around her, or that they could not handle themselves around her, but she overcame those notions by showing up every day and doing her job well.
“I wonder just how fast we would get to where we were going if we could just say what we mean instead of taking days, months, years, decades to say it.”
Listeners of the podcast know that I have a love-hate relationship with the word passion, because people often use it incorrectly. To be passionate about something means that you are willing to suffer for it – and Rachel is truly passionate about coaching professional baseball. After graduating with a Master’s degree, she spent multiple baseball seasons working in retail and as an unpaid intern, as opposed to taking positions in college athletics. She had a goal, and she was going to do whatever she could do to achieve it.
“I knew whatever I was doing was getting me closer. Even if it was an inch closer I was going to do it. I would crawl and scratch my way to get where I wanted to go, and I would say no to things that seemed like no-brainers. I knew it wasn’t getting me closer to my goal.”
Rachel doesn’t call herself a public speaker, she calls herself a public empowerer. She loves her job and empowering the athletes, but right now there is nothing that fulfills her more than getting in front of a group of women and empowering them. Her business is not “successful” yet, in the traditional sense, but nothing else gives her the same high as seeing a group of newly-empowered young women.
“How many times can you stand to fail and still continue down your path? That’s the Champion’s Mindset.”
Rachel made history and set herself apart from other coaches by, she says, “being a little crazy.” People on the same path as her didn’t put the same amount of time, dedication or intention into getting things accomplished every single day. For example, she wakes up at 4:30 AM every morning and starts the day by immediately starting a podcast. Before most people are even awake, she spends over an hour learning.
“I’ve just been devouring information to make myself better.”
I really appreciate what Rachel is doing, accomplishing and building. I’m excited to see where her Champion’s Mindset takes her, because I see huge things ahead. You can learn more about Rachel on her website.
Don’t be a podcast junkie…
- Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- Grit by Angela Duckworth
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