René Rismondo wants to break into the boys’ club — a term used by women to reference the male domination of the baseball industry.
The gender disparity in baseball is exemplified by the lack of female presence in Rismondo’s sports business classes. Although she is outnumbered by her male peers, Rismondo is already making strides to diversify the industry with her internships at the Major League Baseball Players Association and World Baseball Classic.
“There are such gender issues in the game,” Rismondo said. “In the beginning it was ‘I want to do this but I don’t know if I’ll ever be successful.’ But then after [being in the industry] for a few years and still being subject to that sexism, it really motivates me. I want to make equal what wasn’t equal for women before me in baseball.”
Rismondo has felt the gender inequality first-hand since starting her job at the MLBPA during her freshman year. She feels it in the dearth of women around her, but that imbalance has never affected her passion for the sport. Although they are from Pennsylvania, Rismondo’s family would buy season tickets to the Mets each year. She recalled making frequent three-hour drives to Shea Stadium — which later inspired the name for her golden retriever — and returning home early the following morning.
After years of watching from the bleachers, Rismondo decided to transform her passion into a profession. Luckily, her first year at NYU coincided with the return of the university’s varsity baseball team. Although the team wasn’t looking for additional staff, Rismondo took initiative by asking for a position recording game statistics. She has since become the team’s manager.
“NYU baseball has had my back, and they have been a family to me here,” Rismondo said. “The coach in particular has really helped me in sparking my career, and he hasn’t doubted me for a second. He lets me in the dugout with the guys and lets me stat [record statistics for] the game without questioning my decisions.”
Schack Institute of Real Estate junior and NYU baseball player Cameron Serapilio Frank said the entire team has been impressed with Rismondo’s commitment to the game from the very beginning. According to Serapilio Frank, she has proved herself as irreplaceable in the smooth facilitation of practices and games.
“We didn’t so much see her as one of the guys, and we also didn’t just see her as a manager,” Serapilio Frank said. “She became a part of the baseball family. She is really in love with the game as much as the guy next to her.”
Serapilio Frank said that what makes Rismondo unique is her passion for the sport. While some people pursue a career in sports business because they want to make money, he believes that Rismondo does it simply because she loves the game.
“Her work ethic and her dedication — her interning as well as being a full-time student while managing a young team, is something that I don’t think anyone else could do,” Serapilio Frank said. “Her ability to somehow be on top of everything is the most admirable thing. I have never seen anything like it.”
In addition to her responsibilities with the NYU baseball team, Rismondo serves as the President of the 2017 Class Activities Board. A lot the work she does for CAB is behind-the-scenes, but Rismondo said that she doesn’t need recognition. For her, organizing a successful event people care about is what makes her feel accomplished.
Both Serapilio Frank and Rismondo identified that her success stems from her ability to operate outside of traditional boundaries — whether that be challenging gender stereotypes or forging her own career path.
“I feel like right now certain professions and certain majors and certain jobs are very black and white, or by the book,” Rismondo said. “You have to take X to get to Y, you have to learn how to do this before that, and a lot of that is taught by school before you can even get to the real world. Whereas I think I have taken a different path to get there, and my life has been very in between the lines.”
She doesn’t know what’s next for her, but her focus will remain on influencing women in the baseball industry. Currently, equal opportunity under Title IX dictates that only men can play baseball, and women must play softball instead. Rismondo said that she wishes she could have had the opportunity to play baseball, but this deprivation has caused her to seek a more inclusive and modernized definition of equal opportunity.
“I would like to inspire other women in baseball operations,” Rismondo said. “I would like to take on a leadership role and fill a staff of women to show that it is possible, because I don’t think people realize that women know what is going on [with] baseball.”
Email Jemima McEvoy at [email protected]