October 2, 2022

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Kim Ng encourages girls to blaze their own trails

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MIAMI — Kim Ng had a simple message for the 96 girls that gathered in front of her Friday night. And considering the source, it couldn’t have been more powerful.

“Don’t let people tell you what you can’t do,” said Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history. “There’s going to be a lot of people out there who just want to judge you, and you cannot let them get into your heads.

“You know what you can do. You know what you’re capable of. Don’t let anybody get into your head.”

The outing was yet another empowering encounter for the group of girls ages 11-13, participants in this year’s Trailblazer Series, dedicated to provide playing, development and educational opportunities to girls who play baseball. Ng, the Marlins’ GM, is a huge reason the annual tournament exists, thanks to her passion for encouraging females to continue to break the gender barrier, especially in sports.

Appropriately enough, the girls’ latest adventure during an event-filled weekend took place on Jackie Robinson Day, as Major League Baseball celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Dodgers’ legend and ultimate trailblazer breaking baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947.

Ng’s impact on the game wasn’t lost on even the youngest attendees, like 11-year-old Kennedy Cantrell.

“[Talking to Ng] was an amazing experience; very cool,” she said. “Kim was very inspiring, and she’s a great person to talk to. She had a lot of things to say about just baseball in general and how to power through all the haters. …

“She’s such an inspiration to all the girls out here. None of us would obviously be out here without Kim.”

The girls were treated to the Marlins-Phillies game on Friday at loanDepot park, a great vantage spot for pregame batting practice on the left-center-field terrace, a group photo on the warning track and a pregame meet-and-greet with Ng, who made history on Nov. 10, 2020, when she became the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations among the 30 MLB teams.

“Kim’s appointment makes history in all of professional sports and sets a significant example for the millions of women and girls who love baseball and softball,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that day.

Ng’s hiring was the culmination of more than 30 years of experience climbing the ladder in Major League Baseball, including 21 in the front offices of the White Sox (1990-96), Yankees (1998-2001) and Dodgers (2002-11).

A fierce advocate of equality for women on all stages, Ng was the latest in a set of powerful female leaders and role models to speak with the Trailblazer girls. On Thursday, All American Girls Professional Baseball League stars Maybelle Blair and Jeneane Lesko, and Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis spoke to the group about the importance of following their dreams and continuing to advance the cause that is girls playing baseball.

Started in 2017 behind Ng’s charge, Trailblazer features girls from 25 states, Washington, D.C., Canada and Puerto Rico, who compete on the field throughout the weekend led by a talented group of coaches that includes some of the country’s best female coaches and players, including women on USA Baseball’s Women’s National Team.

“[Meeting Ng] was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced, because I believe she’s a trailblazer, too,” 11-year-old Lilah Bratcher said. “I learned to never let anybody tell you that can’t do it. You always try to show them that you can do it, no matter what.”

Ng said she got to a point in her career where she realized that just doing her job and setting an example by being a capable woman in a male-dominated industry wasn’t good enough. Leaving her comfort zone and continuing the conversations about females in baseball, she said, is a duty she has for those who follow in her wake.

While she’ll continue to use her platform, she also encouraged the girls to do the same.

“It’s not about me; it’s about what I’m saying, and it’s about the message,” Ng told the group. “So, when you guys leave here, you guys have to spread this message, too. … It’s not just about talking to the girls and the women. You’re talking to the boys, you’re talking to the men, everybody. And that’s how we’re going to get this thing moving.”

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