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Rafters front office makes history, blazes a new trail in the Northwoods League

Published: Mar. 21, 2021 at 11:49 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) -The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are in the middle of adding players to their roster for the upcoming season.

But over the offseason they made an addition even more important to their front office-one that made history, and one they hope is a trailblazer in the Northwoods League.

Hannah Jurgens started as an intern with the Rafters in 2018 and was promoted to assistant general manager last season, but she picked up on a trend very quickly.

“When we go to Northwoods League meetings, there’s maybe five or six other women that were there the past couple of years,” Jurgens says. “So. it’s something as a female that I had noticed.”

Chloe de Vries also interned with the Rafters in 2018 before returning for seasonal work in 2020. She always knew she wanted to work in baseball, but the idea was met with skepticism by some.

“In college it’s like you ask someone like ‘Oh, what do you want to do?’, and it’s like ‘Oh, I want to do this or this.’ And then whenever I said what I wanted to do people were kind of like ‘What? Okay,’” de Vries says, hinting that not many people took her ambitions seriously.

She got the last laugh. The Rafters hired de Vries as their marketing and public relations manager after the season.

With that, her and Jurgens now comprise the first majority-female front office in Northwoods League history.

“I think we’re seeing a lot of females step up in the baseball industry,” de Vries said. “So, it’s really, really cool to be I would say a part of that whole movement.”

“For us, finding that out, we were really excited about that,” says Jurgens. “Thinking that if we put this news out there that other people are going to see it and think ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’”

For Jurgens and de Vries, one thing is for sure already: The Rafters fan base has their back.

“I think that was the biggest compliment, for them to say ‘You know, we didn’t even look at you as being a female majority front office, we just looked at you as being a front office that was just dominating what you’re doing,’” said Jurgens.

While this glass ceiling of sorts being shattered is cause for celebration, the real work is just beginning for these two, and that’s to help make this the norm rather than the exception.

“The fact that it’s being recognized that we are female working in sports says it all I think,” de Vries says.

“Not even talking about it but going out there and doing something and someone just following suit after it,” Jurgens says of how she wants to use her position. “I think that’s the biggest thing, is just being that example for people to normalize it and to make it something that you don’t kind of drop your jaw at.”

The Rafters open up Northwoods League play on May 31.

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