2020 Trailblazer Of The Year: Alyssa Nakken
Alyssa Nakken spent her first season as a coach with the Giants trying to acknowledge and embrace the historic nature of her job while keeping her focus on tasks at hand.
“I think I’m still working on balancing that,” Nakken said in a phone interview in early November, “and it’s something I’ll have to continue to balance for the rest of my career, because you can’t blaze trails without doing the job you’re supposed to do and then some.”
Nakken, the first woman to be a coach in uniform in the major leagues, did her job so well that Baseball America gave her its Trailblazer of the Year award.
Nakken, 30, said she’s “definitely just humbled by the honor . . . I’m still trying to wrap my head around” receiving the award.
A four-year starter from 2009 to 2012, mainly at first base, for the Sacramento State softball team, Nakken joined the Giants as an intern in the baseball operations department in 2014. She worked in various roles in the organization before manager Gabe Kapler named her to his 13-person coaching staff in January 2020.
“I think she tends to bring the listener out of people,” Kapler said. “I think she tends to make people more thoughtful. I think she tends to make people feel more inspired. Those sorts of things are kind of the name of the game in coaching.”
Though Nakken was not one of the seven coaches allowed in the dugout and bullpen during games, she said she “was in a position where I had my hand in all aspects of the game,” particularly outfield play, baserunning and hitting.
Nakken expressed gratitude to Kapler for hiring and motivating her. She enjoyed working with the other coaches, especially bench coach Kai Correa and first base coach Antoan Richardson.
And, she said, the players made her feel “so welcomed from Day One. I never felt uncomfortable when I stepped into the clubhouse or on the field.”
Kapler said it’s possible Nakken will be one of the coaches allowed on the field during games next year.
“She’s plenty talented,” Kapler said. “She’s plenty driven. Her work ethic is really second to none, so I don’t want to put any limitations on what Alyssa is capable of.”