embrace your critics

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9. Embrace Your Critics

Naysayers come with the territory. Baseball lover Justine Siegal endured a lifetime of put-downs. As a 13-year-old, she was told that her coach didn't want her on his all-boy team. At 16 she heard that no man would listen to a woman on a field. "I'm shy but determined," says Siegal, who in 2008 spoke at the Society for American Baseball Research conference. "I stood in front of hundreds of people, mostly men, and asked them what major league baseball was planning to do beyond selling pink jerseys to get girls involved." Soon after, Siegal was hired as an assistant coach by minor league team the Brockton Rox. Then Siegal, a longtime pitcher, reached out to major league managers about going where no woman had gone before: to the pitcher's mound during spring training. Everyone turned her down, but she persisted with in-person pleas. In February 2011, Siegal pitched batting practice for the Cleveland Indians. She went on to throw for the Oakland A's, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Houston Astros, the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals. Sure, it's intimidating. But every time she climbs the mound, she says, "I take all the butterflies and trembling and I just stuff them."

Lindsy Van Gelder is the coauthor of The Girls Next Door (Simon & Schuster).