MEDFORD, Ore. – Both the players and the coaches of the Medford Rogues are breaking records this season. Coach Jen Mendenhall says the spirit of baseball is in her blood. She grew up playing softball and has coached players privately since 2009, but this summer season she’s adding a new title to her resume.
“I was just kind of like okay yeah sure, I’m all in, when am I going to get an opportunity like this again?” Jen Mendenhall said.
Coach Mendenhall grew up in the dugout and has spent her life in the Rogue Valley learning the ins and outs of America’s greatest past time. In June she was thrown a curveball, she could’ve never seen coming.
“For one game there wasn’t a coach that was able to be out there and he just called me out there, during the game and he was just like get out here I need you, so I just put on some baseball pants and headed out,” Mendenhall said.
Mendenhall is now the first female assistant coach in the history of the Medford Rogues. Head coach, Sean Gallagher says he never doubted Mendenhall would be the right person for this job.
“We had a guy get picked off or thrown out, I can’t remember what it was and I knew it was time. So I called her out of the stands and told her to get her stuff and let’s go,” Gallagher said.
Ever since that day, Jen’s been on first base and earned the title of Assistant Coach, but it hasn’t been an easy role for her to slide into.
“It’s still a very traditional sport, so there were some not so happy people that I was put out there,” Mendenhall said.
“She takes a lot of abuse from the fans and so some of the other coaches, and she’s very courageous and was able to step out there and do her job,” Gallagher said.
With each practice and each game, Mendenhall is feeling more at ease.
“Now it’s just like oh there’s coach hey what’s up, and now it’s kind of just a normal like I’m part of the team,” Mendenhall said.
Coach Gallagher says he’s thankful, not just for her expertise of the game but for how she’s inspiring off the field as well.
“I just feel fortunate for all the girls in the southern Oregon region to be able to see someone so strong and say we can do anything, and I’m all for it,” Gallagher said.
“I’m just really thankful to the coaching staff and the players for being open and trusting that I can get the job done,” Mendenhall said.
The Medford Rogues are rounding the bases of this summer season with just six more home games left this season.
Devin Gooden graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a Master’s degree in Sports Journalism.
She has spent most of her life in Atlanta, Georgia and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in Business Management.
When she’s not reporting, Devin practices yoga, reads thriller novels and loudly cheers for her beloved Georgia Bulldawgs.