Delhi native opening doors one treatment at a time
8/1/2014 (Updated 8/2/2014 3:47:42 PM)(Source: Jeremy Donovan)
When Binghamton Mets trainer and Delhi, NY native Deb Iwanow was offered a job by the New York Mets in 2006 to become the first female trainer in organization history, they compared her to Jackie Robinson. She would open doors allowing other women to pursue a similar dream. But that wasn't her intention.
"I just kind of look at it as I'm here to do a job," Iwanow says. "I want to do this job because I want to be the best at my profession. I don't do it to kick down the doors, but I'm certainly glad it's given other females the same opportunity."
She's one of only a handful of women that have held a trainer position in professional baseball. In such a male dominant environment it takes a certain mindset to succeed and it starts with being professional.
"The guys understand that there are going to be awkward moments, but that I'm here to do a job," she says. "I don't go out and hang out with them at night. I'm very clear about dividing my professional responsibilities with my personal responsibilities and I think that that makes it more comfortable."
"Having a woman trainer, you have to watch what you say, watch what you do a lot. There's things that go on. But, just being a respectable human being in general, just for her, and just for others," says B-Mets All-Star infielder Brian Burgamy.
"The thing I like the most, is the way the guys behave around her. They do a good job. They treat her with respect and I think just having her around, it means a lot," says B-Mets manager Pedro Lopez who has worked with Iwanow on four teams now. They were on the same staff with the Kingsport Mets, the Brooklyn Cyclones, and the St. Lucie Mets, before reuniting this year in Binghamton.
Trailblazer or not, she's come along way from her days as a trainer at Binghamton University, and the experiences are worth the challenges.
"The opportunites that I've been able to take my family to Citi Field and see a big league game and David Wright recognize me by name and have my dad's eyes light up. To be able to come back to Binghamton and have my family come to games and see how far I've come," she says.
It's also having players like B-Mets catcher Juan Centeno thank her for helping him get to the big leagues as a September call-up in 2013 and over the phone saying "WE did it."
"That's a situation where, regardless of what you've gone through for 142 games... sign me up again. Those are the moments that make it worth it. The moments where you're going for playoffs, you get those goosebumps. Or, you look up and you see a little kid in the stands that is just here for the love of the game. It reminds you why you're here, it reminds you why you put in the long hours, and why you come back year to year, nine years later."
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