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A's hire first female coach in MLB history

Siegal to serve as guest instructor in instructional league

The name of the national organization Justine Siegal founded is called "Baseball For All," a fitting title considering she just got a new job that, before now, had only been offered to men.

The A's announced on Tuesday that Siegal, who a few years ago became the first woman to throw batting practice for a Major League team, will serve as a guest instructor for the club's 2015 instructional league. Siegal will work with players Oct. 4-17 at the Lew Wolff Training Complex in Mesa, Ariz.

"This was a great moment," Siegal said. "I feel qualified for this job. I have a lot to learn, but I feel I've worked my way up the ranks. I can't stress enough how thankful I am for the opportunity."

Video: Sprint All Together Fan: Justine Siegal

The A's are the first Major League team to hire a female coach. In 2009, Siegal also became the first woman to be hired as a coach at any professional level, when she served as first-base coach for the Brockton Rox, an independent baseball team.

She also served as an assistant coach for the baseball team at Springfield College from 2008-10.

Video: Siegal moves onto Athletics batting practice

"We're thrilled that Justine will be joining us for instructional league," said A's assistant general manager David Forst, "She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and expertise from years of playing, coaching, and teaching the game, and all of our young players stand to benefit greatly from her time in camp."

Siegal's skill set is multi-layered and extends beyond the more traditional backgrounds many coaches bring to a team. She holds a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology from Springfield College, and an M.A. from Kent State University in sport studies. This part of her training makes her a logical resource in a setting like instructional league, where players split time between working on their craft on the diamond and learning about it in a classroom setting.

Video: Siegal tosses batting practice for Rays

"There's field time and classroom time," Siegal said. "That's a normal part of the routine. Throwing batting practice, hitting fungos, a little bit of a classroom time. ... I'll do whatever they need."

Siegal has worked with the A's before. In addition to throwing batting practice to them -- along with five other teams -- during Spring Training in 2011, she spoke with the organization while directing a program that emphasizes gender equity in sport for Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, which promotes social justice and primary prevention education.

The A's were also one of several teams she worked with during MLB's league-wide domestic violence training.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there is a chance the instructional league stint could lead to a full-time coaching job within the organization. The A's, according to the Chronicle report, don't have their Minor League coaching assignments set and do not yet know about possible job openings.

Video: Siegal makes history at Indians camp

Siegal is also identified as one of the most prominent champions of girls' baseball and equality, among boys and girls, in the sport. Baseball For All, which she founded and serves as the head coach, is a national nonprofit organization whose mission it is to provide meaningful instruction and opportunity in baseball, especially for girls.

Last spring, Baseball For All organized the first national girls baseball tournament for girls ages 10-13 in Orlando, Fla., drawing hundreds of players from around the country.

Soon, Siegal head to Arizona for instructional league, to work with grown men -- another environment in which she's perfectly comfortable.

And she'll also be showing a generation of young people that doors, albeit slowly, are indeed opening.

"I was 16 when I told my coach I wanted to be a college baseball coach," Siegal said. "He laughed at me and said a man would never listen to a woman on a baseball field. That's when I decided I was going to get a Ph.D., prove them wrong.

"Since then, I've been able to coach at the college and pro level. They will listen to you when you know what you're doing and you can make them a better player and show that you care about them."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.
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