How to Defy Convention by LA Dodgers' First Female Trainer

Kathryn Eisman with Sue Falsone, the LA Dodgers' first female trainer. SUE FALSONE - GIRL GOT GAME
All Rights Reserve














When it comes to playing ball with the boys Sue Falsone has got all bases covered. Not only was she hired to be the Head Athletic Trainer for the prestigious LA Dodgers, but what makes her job even more of a home run is the fact that she is the first ever female to hold that position in Major League Baseball history. Pretty impressive stuff!

To find out how Sue breaks down gender barriers and finds success in a male dominated arena (without having to hang up her heels forever), we head to Los Angeles famous Dodger Stadium. There she gives us a front row perspective on the challenges and perks of playing ball with the boys, and priceless tips for any woman following her dream…even if that dream happens to take you to a sweaty dug out.

But, first things first…what exactly does the Head Athletic Trainer do?

Sue is in charge of all the healthcare, preventative methods of training and looks after any injuries; basically she ensures that the LA Dodgers are healthy and fit for the game.

Here are her tips for getting into the game and succeeding in a male dominated area:


HOW TO BE A DUDE WITHOUT BECOMING A DUDE

When it comes to being the only girl in the room, the locker room to be exact, Sue shared that she has no problem dealing with the conversations she overhears because she doesn't take it personally. She warns that there is no room to be sensitive in this business and points out that she goes into the room aware that she is one girl in a room of men. As she is in their space, there's no pointing making her players feel like they have to walk on eggshells, instead she let's them relax and be themselves. That respect is not only appreciated but reciprocated, as proven by LA Dodgers Out fielder Andre Ethier who says that the guys try to tone down their locker room chat or if it just can't be helped, they playfully warn her so she can plug her ears.

Her advice…don't start behaving like a guy to be accepted by them. Stay true to your self while remembering you are a visitor in their space. When you respect yourself and their space, they will respect you in return.


NO TEARS IN THE DUG OUT

It's not uncommon for male players, coaches or trainers to storm off the field and hit the closest trashcan; it's the passion of the game. And while her male colleagues may be able to get away with it, Sue is aware it doesn't sit so well when the person having a melt down is female.

Sue points out that as a female you do have to be able to manage your emotions whether it's being sensitive to the guy talk or when dealing with conflict or even frustration watching the game. In such an emotionally charged environment, Sue admits there have been times she wanted to yell or cry, but she never allows herself to do so in public.

Her advice…. When you feel like crying or having a meltdown do it in private. Find a quiet place and take some time out to put things in perspective before dealing with the issue at hand.

BE CONFIDENT BUT NOT A "KNOW IT ALL"

Guys in sport are used to being told what to do by their coach, but when that advice comes from a woman, it's easy for it to be met with resistance. After all, the sports field has more than a few egos to manage. But Sue takes it all in her stride.

To find the balance between being assertive without alienating the team, Sue advises that you be honest about what you do and don't know.

Sue admits she's not an expert on the game itself, but she is an expert when it comes to looking after the health and fitness of the players. Knowing your strengths and your limitations allows you to manage the right time to speak up and the correct time to listen. Being confident with what you know without acting like you know everything builds respect and an honest level of communication that is never threatening. When a player says something she doesn't understand, she's confident enough to admit she doesn't know all the baseball lingo but what she does know is her job and that helps her inspire the players to listen when she's does speak up.

Her advice…be an expert in the area you're hired to be an expert in and lets others do the same. Then when you do speak up you will do so with a level of authority and people will listen to what you have to say.

SHOWER WHEN YOU GET HOME

Being the first female in any position can be challenging, but often not in the ways you imagine! As Sue found out, sometimes there aren't even ladies restrooms!

"Ballparks were built, some of them, a hundred years ago. And so they really weren't mapped out for women, so sometimes there's not a women's bathroom. At Wrigley field I have to go out to restroom and wait with the fans, or I always don't get to have a shower after the game, I've got to wait until I get to the hotel or the next city!"

Sue's advice…Roll with those punches. Remind yourself that most important change happens gradually, so if things aren't exactly as you'd hope, learn to find an alternative solution. Just being relaxed and easy to work with is half the battle.