Nakken celebrates first Mother's Day at Oracle Park

May 11th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Maria Guardado’s Giants Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunday won’t be just another day at the ballpark for Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken.

Back to work after giving birth to her first child, a daughter named Austyn, on Jan. 21, Nakken will celebrate her first Mother’s Day at Oracle Park, the same place where she made history four years ago by becoming the first woman to be named to a Major League coaching staff.

“I don’t have the words yet,” Nakken, 33, said. “How cool to be in this environment on that day with my husband and daughter here. It’s really cool, and it’s something I’ll obviously never forget. I think being a mother has been the greatest gift of my life. To be able to celebrate on that day on the field where I’ve spent over a decade in this organization, it’s going to be really cool. I’m excited to celebrate all mothers and reflect on what a joy it is to be a mom and the ups and downs that go with it.”

The past few months have been a whirlwind for Nakken, who missed most of Spring Training while on maternity leave but is now taking on the unprecedented challenge of trying to balance motherhood with her coaching duties for the Giants. Nakken and her husband, Robert, are beginning to settle into a routine for home games, though the new parents have found that the best approach is to try to take everything one step at a time.

“I can definitely get caught up in thinking way too far in advance and start to overthink, much like I think anybody would,” Nakken said. “I’m very, very grateful for the position I’m in because I’ve got a very supportive husband, a very supportive family and this organization has been incredibly supportive. I feel like I’ve really been able to approach every day like, ‘OK, how can I be the best mother and coach and representative of this organization today?’ That’s how I go about the day to day.

"I’m trying to learn how other people manage this. Other women in other industries, even like the guys and how they manage it with their families. It’s not easy for them to be away all the time. I don’t think there will ever be balance, so what I’m trying to do is find harmony with it all. So far, it’s been really harmonious.”

The Nakkens haven't traveled with the team yet, but they're planning to go on their first road trip of the season during the Giants’ six-game swing through Arizona and Texas in early June. It’ll be a family trip for the club, meaning players and staffers will be allowed to bring their loved ones on board the charter flight, which should help with the logistics of traveling with a baby. Three-month-old Austyn has already been on a couple of flights, including a brief trip to Spring Training in February, when she quickly won over hearts in the Giants' clubhouse.

“She smiles like crazy,” Nakken said. “She’s cooing a lot, so we’ve got a talker.”

Before welcoming Austyn into the world, Nakken participated in an ad for Nike’s maternity line, which she hopes will help raise the profile of working mothers in sports.

“I was very grateful that they had a maternity line because I don’t think I had to buy any maternity clothes, which was quite nice,” Nakken said. “But I think it goes beyond the product. It’s just showing women can continue to pursue what it is that they want to pursue while raising a family. If people want to stay at home and raise a family, great. If they want to go on every single road trip with a sports team and coach, great. There’s a lot of different ways that you can approach motherhood. It doesn’t just look one way.”

The journey hasn’t been easy at times, but Nakken said her future feels “limitless” thanks to the support of Robert and the Giants, who have given her opportunities to contribute remotely when the team’s been away this year. Her responsibilities include helping bench coach Ryan Christenson with outfield positioning and baserunning, though she’s been working with team analysts on other video projects as well.

Nakken’s ultimate goal is to manage in the big leagues, an ambition she moved one step closer toward achieving after being asked to interview for the Giants’ managerial opening that ultimately went to Bob Melvin in October.

“I was very honored to be asked to interview,” said Nakken, who was six or seven months pregnant at the time. “I learned a lot through it. It made me very sure that that’s the path I would love to go down. It was a great way to really reflect on the season and being in that position and how to manage certain things and forecasting how you want the on-field product to look and some standards, that sort of thing. It was very in line with where I think I’d like to go.”