The Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball team has a female sports trainer, a first in pro sports. She says, “there is mutual respect with the players”.
It wasn’t Sue Falsone’s intention to be a pioneer in her field, when she accepted the position with the Dodgers, it just happened, but she has learned to embrace her new role.
Falsone is the first female head trainer for a major professional team, in a world which is not used to seeing women on the field, or the clubhouse. Does her story sound familiar?
Now, in her second season as team trainer (her contract was renewed for a second year, so she must be doing a good job), Falsone told USA Today she never thought of herself as a trailbrazer, “but I guess I do now”. She receives a lot of letters and tweets.
The Dodgers were not purposely trying to break barriers when they hired a female trainer according to Stan Conte, vice president of medical services for the team.
Falsone had the credentials, she had worked with professional athletes for 12 years. Appearing on TODAY Conte joked, “I knew she was a woman, I noticed that.”
“My philosophy is, and I think everybody’s should be, that it’s about performance, and at this level, it’s all about performance. I just felt that she was the best person for that job.” Conte adds.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly says her expertise are to know where injuries are coming from and how everything is working. Talking to TODAY, Mattingly adds, “Instead of saying, ‘Hey, that’s a hamstring injury,’ trying to find why we’re having hamstring injuries.”
There is curiosity as to how the Dodgers female trainer interacts with the players in the clubhouse, a male hallow ground, in which men are usually walking around naked.
“There’s a mutual respect there, for sure,” Falsone, 39, says.”It’s just like women reporters being in the clubhouse where (the players) are changing after they’re showering, so that’s their space.”
Mark Ellis, Dodgers second baseman told TODAY, “Sue’s incredible. She thinks about the ballplayer a lot, she understands our temperaments as athletes and ballplayers. She really does get it.”
The Dodgers are currently in first place in the National League West despite numerous injuries. This is in stark contrast to when they found themselves in last place in June.
Falsone said they have been heavily criticized on social media due to the number of injuries on key players. She adds that players put a lot of pressure on themselves and the multi-million dollar contracts only add to the desire to perform for the fans.
The Dodgers female trainer has worked very hard to bring injured players back to health and to keep those uninjured playing as the season enters its final stretch.
Ellis, who recently came back from a quadriceps injury says he hasn’t felt this good all season, he credits “Sue and her staff”.
The Dodgers are no strangers to breaking ground in pro sports, after all they are the ones that hired the first black player in the majors, Jackie Robinson.
With the first female trainer, the Dodgers are taking a male sport into uncharted territory, but it seems to be working well for them.
[Images via TODAY]