UMass Softball Assistant Coach Ronnie Gajownik producing instructional videos for MLB Develops program

Gajownik holds Zoom sessions for girls interested in baseball

Eva+Trainer%2FDaily+Collegian

Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian

By Frederick Hanna III, Collegian Staff

As many schools across the country shift towards online learning, so has the instructional lessons taught by athletic trainers, coaches and more. One of those programs transitioning to the digital format is the Girls Baseball Elite Development Invitational.

The program will consist of instructional videos ranging from on-field performance to the mental aspect of the game. Coaches taking part in this invitational are some members from the USA women’s national baseball team, including a team member and current assistant coach of the women’s softball team at UMass, Ronnie Gajownik.

Gajownik is taking part in this journey with MLB Develops, which showcases talented high schoolers across the country. The Elite Development Invitational consists of girls aged 13-18 taking part in Zoom sessions with coaches and former players, giving advice through certain drills and instruction. From watching the videos, the girls can ask questions to the instructors and are also placed into small groups with other girls and coaches, where they can work week-to-week with them.

Gajownik was certainly pleased when she was approached to partake in the program and has been able to use the skills and lessons she was taught in her time playing baseball to help out younger girls.

“The big thing is girls playing baseball,” Gajownik said. “I know MLB has been pushing to get more females involved when it comes to front office, coaching and everything. This is becoming a big push to normalize this. If you love this sport, just like if you love curling or tennis, then it’s okay to play.”

It’s a push that the MLB has been trying to make and through their instructional videos they are getting more girls involved in baseball. Gajownik has been doing lessons in her Zoom sessions and even had a clip posted to the MLB Develops Twitter page where she focused on trying to create defensive momentum on the field. MLB Develops has been posting the videos to its Twitter page to spread awareness about the program and there’s been a lot of positive feedback on the page from people following along.

Finding resources online is something Gajownik is heavily in favor of.

“Just watching the MLB and their games and also Twitter [has helped with finding drills]. It’s insane how much information could be good and bad that is out there on Twitter now,” Gajownik said. “You see people reposting stuff of different drills that all the MLB players are doing. It’s a combination of both watching the games and finding the drills on Twitter.”

Through her videos Gajownik has talked about baserunning, hitting, defensive positioning and mental performance on the field. Incorporating different drills she has used over the years, along with her experience of coaching softball and playing for the women’s national baseball team in 2015 has been a key factor for inspiration of her videos. As a player in the 2015 Pan American Games she won gold for Team USA.

“Every coach has their own specific way of going about teaching the drills, their different philosophy and the different importance of different drills and situations,” Gajownik said. “It’s been pretty nice that we’ve been able to have free range to go with it, so we can show the girls what we believe to be important and how they should be going about playing the game.”

For Gajownik, she is trying to grow the game of baseball to the point where more girls are playing. She has enjoyed her time working with the MLB doing these instructional videos and certainly wants to make an impact on and off the field for these young girls.

“It’s been a lot of fun and playing with Team USA in 2015 and being involved with them it has been an honor,” Gajownik said. “It is really cool seeing this new generation come up,”

Frederick Hanna can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @FrederickHIII.