When Alyssa Nakken showed up at Scottsdale Stadium last spring, she was part of a large group of first-year coaches getting acclimated to new roles. But Nakken was the one the cameras followed, the one who got more interview requests than the rest of Gabe Kapler's hires combined.
Nakken said that was unsettling at times, and she wanted to point out to the media that her fellow coaches had great stories, too, and deserved their own attention, but she also understood the significance of what she was trying to do. She understood that she had to balance her new job with the fact she was making history, and as she got comfortable, she got some advice from another Bay Area coach who had been through the same thing.
On this week's Giants Talk Podcast, Nakken, the first woman to be a coach on a big league staff, said she benefited from a conversation she had with Katie Sowers during baseball's shutdown last year.
A year earlier, the 49ers had made Sowers the first full-time female and openly gay coach in NFL history. Nakken said the two talked about dealing with the added stress that comes with being first, and ways that Nakken could balance the significance of her role with the need to build relationships and trust with Giants players.
"It was wonderful to talk to Katie about it because she was going through it and has gone through it and we could just kind of share stories about that and the importance of knowing how to balance it," Nakken said. "It is a responsibility to speak with the media and get your face out there and talk about these things so that it helps continue to keep this path paved for more women to get into these roles."
Sowers and the 49ers parted ways in January after four years of working together. Nakken recalled their conversation fondly and said "Katie is incredible."
"She's just a wonderful woman and has done some amazing things," she said.
Nakken has also gotten to connect with two other trailblazers. Earlier in March, she did a virtual event for Nike alongside Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, the first female to hold a full-time position on an NBA staff. After getting hired last January, Nakken spoke with Kim Ng, who months later would become the first female general manager in MLB history.
"She's an all-star, a rock star," Nakken said of Ng. "She's had so much experience and she's, I think, a huge reason why I have the opportunity that I have today because she's just been doing a kickass job in her role for 30 years."