Ryan Brownlee: Were there options for you in baseball growing up?
Jennifer Hammond: No, there was occasionally a girl who would play through little league and kind of got pushed towards softball. My dad was always looking out for me and said “Nah, you are going to play softball.” He was protective, I was the only girl with three older brothers, he kind of felt like we are going to do what everyone says we should.
RB: Is that the gratifying thing being with the DC Girls Baseball Club, trying to help girls fight that?
JH: I love it because it gives so many girls the opportunity to play, because so many of them are the only girls left on their team or some unfortunately do not even have the opportunity anymore.
RB: What has the Eastern Women's Baseball Conference meant to you?
JH: It was a home for me. The gals I grew up playing with became a second family to me, much like the way a college team would have. I finally have a place to play baseball, and be able to play competitively with a tournament group. I was 18 or 19 and just desperately wanted to play baseball, it was home. It was a place I finally got to play the game I wanted to, in an environment where everyone was so happy to be playing.
RB: Is playing what inspired you to get into the coaching side of it?
JH: It was kind of an accidental thing, I was not ready to get into coaching. Then a friend of mine who was the Assistant DSA (Director of Student Activities) of the school said, “The softball coach left, can you cover?” Another friend of mine and I then got into it. From there we would watch baseball games and eventually the coach said, “Hey ladies why don’t we go out for a beer and talk baseball.”
RB: How are you helping them reframe that failure piece into learning?
JH: Understanding failure is not something to be feared, failure is a friend and probably the best teacher that life has. We talk about the cliché that the best hitters in baseball are failing seven out of 10 times and getting them to understand that is your best teacher.
RB: Is there a difference between coaching men and coaching women?
JH: There are some, I see it more in the way men handle things and the way women handle things. The biggest difference that I notice when it comes to the girls I coach and the guys I coach is those girls are grateful to be playing. When they come to us in a girls organization and get together in the dugout, the family environment is different. There are no cliques or things like that kind of high school stuff, but I have seen more similarities than differences. There is not as much of a difference as I would have thought.
RB: For coaches trying to get into it and coaches who maybe don’t look like everybody else, what are some tips?
JH: I think the big thing is don’t be afraid to make yourself seen. Go have conversations and introduce yourself. What I have learned about the coaching community is it’s very much about the people you know. There seems to be a great willingness to pull others along.