It's tough to make history in a league that's been around for 125 years, but Beth Jarrett has done just that.
Earlier this month, the Syracuse Chiefs announced Jarrett would serve as the team's athletic trainer for the 2009 season. She is the first female to hold this position in the history of the International League and only the second to reach Triple-A. Nonetheless, Jarrett doesn't see herself as any sort of pioneer or trailblazer.
"I've never done this with a sense of history," she said. "[Being an athletic trainer] was just something that I've always enjoyed doing. This was the career path I wanted to take, and I've followed along with it the whole time."
Jarrett has been an athletic trainer within the world of professional baseball for 16 years, the past eight of which have been spent in the Washington Nationals organization. She got her start in Minor League Baseball as a bat girl with the International League's Indianapolis Indians and then went on to attend Indiana University. There, her major was kinesiology.
"Throughout college, I interned with the Indians as an athletic trainer," said Jarrett, who is currently working at the Nationals' big league training camp in Viera, Fla. "After college I started working in the independent leagues, where the season usually ran from May to September. So, I'd still work in Indy in April, and then again in September if the Indians were in the playoffs."
Jarrett's big break came in 2002, when she was hired by a Montreal Expos organization presided over by current New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya. Just like a player, she began a slow descent up the Minor League ladder -- from Clinton, Iowa to Savannah, Ga. to Harrisburg, Pa. to Syracuse.
While many people might focus on the inherent awkwardness and discomfort of being the lone female in a testosterone-filled environment, Jarrett insists this has never been an issue.
"I've always been treated professionally and with respect," she said. "If a new guy comes into the clubhouse and is a little unsure about working with a female trainer, then there will be 20 of his teammates willing to speak on my behalf.
"People are often surprised when I tell them what it is I do," Jarrett added. "Like a lot of people who work in baseball, sometimes I'd rather not tell them. I just like to have my actions speak for themselves."
Now that she's in Syracuse, Jarrett finds herself just one level away from the glory and grandeur of the big leagues. She's content to take things one step at a time, however.
"I started out in Indianapolis, so from the time I started doing this, my goal was always to make it back to Triple-A. I definitely wouldn't turn [the Major Leagues] down, but I take things year to year. You never know in what direction things will go."
For Jarrett, the simple fact that she is doing exactly what she set out to do is satisfaction enough.
"When I was in college, and people would ask 'Where do you see yourself in 10 years?' my answer was always 'Minor League Baseball.' That's been my statement the whole time. If I wasn't working in baseball, I have no idea what I'd be doing with my life. It would probably be something completely different."