MIAMI -- A panel of female representatives of the Miami Marlins front office hosted the Elite Development Invitational at Marlins Park on Monday. Participants took part in a speed-dating-style roundtable, chatting with five different Marlins personnel, in 20-minute intervals, about their careers.This unique event is part of a one-week program,
MIAMI -- A panel of female representatives of the Miami Marlins front office hosted the Elite Development Invitational at Marlins Park on Monday. Participants took part in a speed-dating-style roundtable, chatting with five different Marlins personnel, in 20-minute intervals, about their careers.
This unique event is part of a one-week program, operated by Major League Baseball and USA Softball based in Historic Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Fla., and it's geared toward providing elite training and instruction opportunities to approximately 90 high school softball players, ages 18 and under.
"The idea is to let these young ladies know that while we want to invest in them as athletes and that we value them as athletes, we really value the fact that they are intellectual young ladies," said Renee Tirado, vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer of Major League Baseball. "We legitimately believe that some of these ladies in this room can be potential leaders for our organization down the line for some of our clubs. We just want to show them the pathway to that."
Angela Smith, senior director of community outreach for the Marlins, stressed the significance of giving these young women an incredible opportunity to pick the brains of several successful women currently working in a variety of jobs that these high schoolers may pursue down the road.
"I think it's really important for us to be able to come out and share our experiences and our career paths with these young women," Smith said. "Give them some pointers of what to think about and different things that they can do to discern what they want to do with their lives and ways they can achieve it."
Other speakers at the event proudly represented a wide variety of fields, including journalism, business communications, finance and marketing.
Elisa Padilla, senior vice president of marketing and community relations with the Marlins, accentuated the effect of an event like this, setting women on a path to no longer be the minority working in sports.
"I think that we're going to break the glass ceiling and that the young women that we saw today will one day be running a sports team," Padilla said. "I hope to see a lot more women in powerful positions. That's my hope. And not only women, but women of color … To this day, and I've been in the industry for 25 years, I'm probably just one of two women in the board room. So, my hope is just a little more balance."
To Tirado, the biggest takeaway of the afternoon was to emphasize to the group of young women that although athletics are important, they should all focus on a plan for their future.
"Often times they are so focused on the athletics and being the superstar athlete, which is great, but we know there's a timestamp on that," she said. "What are you going to do after that? We're just trying to let them know that when the 'after that' comes, come here first, you have an opportunity for you here."
The messages delivered by the Marlins' personnel resonated particularly with Adison Cooper, of New Orleans, who said after the event that she had learned about balancing her priorities and planning for her future as she moves closer to college.
"I learned that I need to have something other than softball that I have a passion for," Cooper said. "Something that I will be able to do in life, so that I will be able to be a successful adult. I also learned that in college, I need to stay on my studies so that everything I do will make me become who I want to be and who I aspire to be."
Max Goodman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @Max_Goodman97.