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Breakthrough Series spreads career inspiration

May 26, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- Along with many of the beneficial experiences at the softball Breakthrough Series this weekend was a career chat for the participants, who heard from women who work for the Royals and the Urban Youth Academy. A connection between the two groups was formed immediately. The panelists, some

KANSAS CITY -- Along with many of the beneficial experiences at the softball Breakthrough Series this weekend was a career chat for the participants, who heard from women who work for the Royals and the Urban Youth Academy.

A connection between the two groups was formed immediately. The panelists, some women of color, spoke of using their passion for sports as a way to make a career of it -- a sound alternative to playing professionally.

“Women are really underestimated, and knowing that they are in those positions, it really showed me that maybe I can do that, too,” said Breakthrough Series player Jamya Parker.

Kristin Lock, a baseball operations assistant for the Royals, spoke to the girls about building themselves up in their line of work. Lock began her career by receiving an internship with the organization's community relations department as well as Royals Charities, and although it wasn’t originally what she wanted to do, it was beneficial by helping her get her foot in the door.

“Be you and lean on the experiences that you have. Yes, you’re a female trying to impose your way into a male-dominated sport, but don’t be afraid or feel like you aren’t good enough,” Lock said. “If you want to do it then you should pursue it.”

Lock is one of only a few women in her position. She stressed to the players that career success isn't about their gender -- it’s about who they are.

“Women bring a lot of good ideas to the table, and It means a lot that she’s one of very few in that group,” Parker said.

Ashley Newman, coordinator of the Urban Youth Academy's softball program, connected with the players about what it has been like to work in a sport where not everyone looks like her.

“It was very inspiring, because when I was younger, I didn’t see black women that showed me that they could be good, too, and can overcome all the setbacks,” Jaelynn Barrios said.

Newman grew up in a predominantly white town, and when she saw former softball pro Natasha Watley as a kid on TV, Newman saw that as an opportunity for her as well. She wanted to be that same role model and example for other girls.

“Being with predominantly white people, you have an image that everyone has to obtain,” Barrios said. “Being told our hair has to be slicked back or straightened for games, and for her to overcome that and be everything that she wants to be, and her hair not slicked back, was a breath of fresh air.”

The panelists emphasized to the girls that there is a place for them in the world of sports, and they can do anything with hard work and perseverance.

“I’m the kind of person that thinks, ‘How can I make a change?’ and it is gratifying having the girls look at me and see I am another example that they can do this,” Newman said. “To show them, ‘Maybe I don’t go play for Team USA one day, but I can still give back to other little girls that look like me.’”