Hillsboro Hops beginning 10th season with a big first for the league

Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 8:00 PM PDT
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HILLSBORO Ore. (KPTV) - The Hillsboro Hops are warming up for their 10th anniversary season of minor league fun with a big league first.

The boys of summer are back in Hillsboro like they’ve been for the past decade, but the 2023 High-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks are skippered by the second woman in minor league history.

“My mom always tells me I am athletic because she didn’t roll the ball to me as a baby, but to my side so it’s literally always been in my life,” says manager Ronnie Gajownik.

Ronnie Gajownik is the first female manager ever in the northwest league.

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“It definitely does carry a lot of weight but it’s good weight and I think it’s cool just to see those little girls coming to the games or even older females saying like, ‘Man, I think that’s awesome what you are doing! I wish I had the opportunity,’” Gajownik says. “So, it’s cool that those comments of ‘I wish I had the opportunity,’ those comments are going to be gone because now we do have them.”

The 29-year-old Gajownik has been with the Hops before, serving as video coordinator before joining the coaching staff of the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles last season.

“I am not just representing Gajownik, I am representing the Hops, I am representing the Diamondbacks so to have this opportunity here, especially coming back to, in my own take, my baseball hometown, so it is just great to represent them and show them all of the great things they’ve been doing the past couple of years,” Gajownik says.

Gajownik is a 2015 college graduate from the University of South Florida where she was a two-year starter with the Bulls’ softball program.

“The reason why I was always drawn to this game is because on this field is where you get those true emotions and those true emotions are not filtered, they are true happiness, they are true frustration or anger or sadness,” Gajownik says. “Being here and being involved with this game, it’s always drawn me so to have that vulnerability, because that is where I think you get the best things out of life.”

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Gajownik’s father was a TV guy, serving as chief meteorologist at the ABC affiliate in Orlando.

“He actually came to my school one time in a helicopter so that was actually pretty cool,” Gajownik says. “I remember everyone was like, ‘Oh, look at this helicopter, it’s so cool!’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s my dad!”

The weatherman is no doubt tuned in for what his daughter is doing in the game of baseball.

“Life can be really scary of going into the unknown but as long as you take confident steps and you put yourself in a good spot and you are being happy, then you know you are doing right by yourself and by your family,” Gajownik says. “You are going to end up in a pretty cool spot so the fact that I am able to look up now and see where I am at and also where females are at in general, it’s such a huge kudos to themselves but also to the evolving minds of the men who have held those higher positions that they do see the value in us and what we can bring.”

It’s game week for the Hops after opening up on the road against Tri-City, they’ll return to Hillsboro for opening night on Tuesday, April 11 to begin a six-game homestand.