DENVER — When does history beckon? How does it become reality? For Kristen Genter, manager of a men’s adult baseball league team in Denver, the answer was simple — it happens slowly and then manifests in the blink of an eye.
Last year, Genter was asked if she wanted to manage the Whooping Cranes baseball team. With five years of studying statistics under her belt, a passion for baseball, and since she's at every game anyway, it was an easy decision.
“I never thought I could get into baseball as a kid," she said. "So, it was never my dream growing up because I was like, 'Oh, I can't because I am a woman, and I will have to do something else and then just love baseball.' And it’s really cool actually being immersed in it. And you respect the sport even more.”
The Whooping Cranes became a Denver Browns affiliate this season. Matthew Repplinger runs the Denver Browns, which is an adult league powerhouse team.
Travis Smith, the Browns’s director of player development, told Repplinger about Genter and about why she was a good fit. The Browns boss agreed that she was extraordinarily talented.
“It shows us what is possible," Repplinger said. "There are really no restrictions on what a woman can do on the baseball field as far as showing intellect. There’s no reason a woman cannot manage a men's baseball team. In fact, I think it will give us a lot of benefit.”
As for Genter's managerial style? It is a blend of numbers and a sense of humor.
“I am very sarcastic," she said. "I think the benefit is that I have been around the team for so long and a lot of our guys have been here as long as I have. So, knowing their personalities definitely helps with who you approach and how you approach them. And when you have the numbers to back up your own theories, it really does help.”
She says she thinks it helps being a female manager for a men's team.
“They open up to you a little more which is nice," she said. "And there’s no judgment which is good.”
When Genter took over last summer, it felt natural. She grew up playing lacrosse. She won a state title. She understands what it is like to be in the arena.
And the players? They trusted her eyes and her insanely detailed Microsoft excel spreadsheet of statistics.
“She is pretty much the whole brains of the operation when it comes down to us," said Draw Hammond, infielder for the Whooping Cranes. "She tells us what to do and where to go. Even if we needed an extra player or something, she would put on her baseball gear and head out there with us. She’s very enthusiastic, she loves the sport, you can definitely tell she’s one we can go to war with.”
Genter doesn’t sleep much. Before managing this summer, she will finish her doctorate at CU Boulder in engineering. She has interned at NASA.
She knows baseball is not rocket science — it is a game. But it's one she loves dearly and proudly serves as a pioneer.
“I always think it’s so cool that women are getting a more prominent role in the sport because you don't have to play it to know it," she said. "I don't like that old-school thought — if you haven't play it, you can't really coach or manage. I don't agree with that obviously."