A TV Interview Set Ronnie Gajownik On Path To Managing Minor League Team
While watching college softball one day in 2010, Ronnie Gajownik saw an interview with a USA Women’s National Baseball Team member and thought:
“Wait, that’s a thing? I want to do that.”
Gajownik submitted a tryout video and joined the 40-woman roster in 2011.
Four years later, Gajownik and Team USA made it to the Pan American Games in Toronto, where they won gold.
She called the experience absolutely amazing—not just playing the game she loves on a global stage but because of what it meant to her family.
“My parents raised me (saying) that your last name and who you are as a person, it’s huge, it’s everything,” Gajownik said. “It’s a brand that my dad and mom have made with our name. It was really cool to have that moment of having ‘Team USA’ on the front and then ‘Gajownik’ on the back.”
Now, Gajownik is the first female manager in the affiliated minor leagues above Low-A. This season she will manage the High-A Hillsboro Hops, the Northwest League affiliate of the D-backs. Last season, Low-A Tampa’s Rachel Balkovec became the first female manager in affiliated minor league history.
Gajownik still remembers the importance of the name on the back of the jersey.
When Gajownik was interviewing for jobs in baseball, she had a good feeling about her talks with the D-backs. She felt the organization was talking to her, not to make a token hire, but because of who she was and her skill—something her parents had always emphasized.
“It felt right,” Gajownik said. “No matter what job it was going to be that they were going to offer me, I was gonna say yes.”
From Arizona’s initial job offer as an affiliate video coordinator in early 2021 to now has been nothing short of a whirlwind.
In 2022, she was slated to coach in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. But then a Double-A Amarillo coach injured his foot and would miss the remainder of the season.
The D-backs promoted Gajownik to serve as the Sod Poodles’ first base coach. When the organization needed a manager at Hillsboro this year, it tapped Gajownik for the job.
When Gajownik got the call, she first told her wife, who has supported her throughout the baseball roller-coaster she has been on for the last few years. Then, Gajownik thought of her parents back home in Orlando.
When she suits up for her first game as manager, she will make history. However, she will remember the name on the back of the jersey and look over at her parents—who will attend her first game—and remember that she is doing this for much more than herself.
“It’s definitely going to be a big moment,” Gajownik said. “When you’re an athlete, and all the hours that your parents put in . . . waking up at 4 a.m. and getting your breakfast ready and driving you three hours while you sleep in the car . . . Just how much time and effort they put into me, I want to make them proud.
Gajownik said one of her top goals is to reward all the hard work her parents invested in her upbringing.
“When I’m out there in the coach’s box, or writing out the lineup and signing my name, I understand that I’m the one doing it,” she said. “But there are a lot of people who are a part of me who are actually doing it with me. It’s not just my journey. It is a lot of people.”
Gajownik also knows that being the first means that she is playing for more than just her family, too.
She is playing for every girl who is watching and says, “Wait, that’s a thing? I want to do that.”