Arkansas Travelers new GM in a league of their own as one of baseball’s few female bosses | KLRT
LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Arkansas Travelers are making history this year. For the first time in the team’s history, they have a woman as the club’s general manager.
Her name is Sophie Ozier, and she’s on a mission to not only make a name for herself, but other women trying to break into a sport long dominated by heavyweights.
Opening day at Dickey Stephens Ballpark in North Little Rock thrilled fans to see their team in action, but long before the first pitch was thrown, another well-orchestrated team is hard at work, making sure everything runs smoothly .
Ozier is the person who oversees the controlled chaos. When asked if she had ever imagined this kind of day growing up as a little girl in Cerro Gordo, Illinois, the 27-year-old rolled her eyes and laughed before replying, “No. , no way.”
Growing up, Ozier enjoyed playing basketball, softball, and volleyball. But it was watching the Cardinals play in St. Louis with her family that she realized baseball was her true passion.
“My dad was a huge fan, so we didn’t just sit around and watch the game,” she recalled. “We were watching games and analyzing everything, and he was teaching me, ‘Okay, well, they’re going to throw this pitch at this guy for this reason and they’re going to move the shortstop here to do it.
Those intimate times with her father had a profound impact on Ozier’s future, but it wasn’t until her mother sat her down for a heart-to-heart conversation just before her high school graduation. secondary that she realized what she wanted to do.
“She was like, ‘Okay, we need to find out where you’re going to college. What do you like doing?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I like watching Cardinals baseball,’ she said. “I was joking with her and she was like, ‘What the hell? do you think you are good?’ And I said, ‘I think I’m pretty good at working with people.’ And she said, ‘Why don’t you work in communications for the cardinals?’ She just said it so simply like that, and I didn’t even know that was an option.
Ozier hit the ground running after this conversation.
“A lot of people laughed when I said I wanted to work for the Cardinals,” she said. “I want to work for a professional baseball team. They’re like, ‘Okay, sure kid. Dark.'”
In 2015, while attending Webster University in St. Louis, she landed an internship at FOX Sports Midwest. That same year, she also worked for the Metro Collegiate Baseball League.
A year later, she interned with the St. Louis Blues and then got another internship with the River City Rascals, a professional Frontier League baseball team.
Not an easy task, especially since it was in a field that has long been dominated by men.
In 2016, Arkansas Travelers hired Ozier, and since then she’s held just about every front office job except one. But that all changed in November last year when Travs gave her the job of chief executive.
“It was an easy decision,” CEO Rusty Meeks said. “She deserved this opportunity. She worked so hard to do this. She has been with us for five years. He’s one of the most loyal people I know.
His promotion to general manager is significant, especially considering that of the 121 minor league baseball teams, only four other teams have female general managers.
“I believe the culture is definitely changing, and women have opportunities in these positions, and they deserve them,” Meeks said.
Ozier agrees but also adds that there is still a lot of work to do.
“I certainly don’t take it lightly. I’m lucky to be here, but at the same time we have to keep going,” she said. “We need to keep getting the message out that we need more women in the room. We need more women in this room to make decisions.
When it comes to gender parity, the minor leagues are ahead of the game, especially compared to the majors, which are catching up. In November, Kim Ng made history when the Miami Marlins hired her as the first female major league general manager. And last month, Alyssa Nakken of the San Francisco Giants became the first woman to coach in a major league game.
But Ozier pays no attention to the obstacles she has had to overcome or the pushbacks she may have encountered. Instead, she stays focused on the goals that need to be accomplished.
“I’m pretty naïve and I try not to see it that way. I am a person trying to pursue a career in sports, not a woman trying to pursue a career in sports,” she said. “I think if you keep looking at it that way, you’re not going to make excuses and you’re just going to keep your head down and do your job.”
Back at the stadium on opening day, Ozier runs around the stadium lobby to make sure everything is running smoothly and the fans are enjoying themselves, which they were.
She likes what she calls the “little feeling” of working in the minor leagues. So, for now, this rising star is fine with his place in the Travs starting lineup.
“I don’t know where I’ll be in five or ten years, but I know this job has been really tough, and I like a good challenge, and I’m excited to do it.”