Padecky: Petaluma grad knows what it’s like to kick down doors in sports
For those who think women should stay in their lane and mind their own female business, well, those folks are not going to be happy about this. No, no, they think this is rude and that women are wasting their time and energy entering The Club.
In sports, we all know about The Club. Men Only. In The Club men grab the headlines, make the most cash, get the real-money endorsements. In The Club, men govern men, men coach men, men take advice and criticism from other men. Men and only men know what men want and need. Men can cuss and scratch themselves and slap butts and no one would dare have The Club invaded by women who A) don’t know what it’s like to be a real man B) collapse under pressure C) cry if they don’t get their way D) have no clue about big-time competition E) ain’t slapping my butt.
Well, well, mercy me, lookie what we have here. Kim Ng is the first woman to be a general manager of an MLB team, the Miami Marlins. Callie Bronson is the first woman to be a game-day coach in the NFL, working with the Cleveland Browns’ tight ends. Alyssa Nakken is the first woman to coach in MLB history; Alyssa threw batting practice and hit fungoes for the San Francisco Giants.
All this happened in 2020.
Jordy Baddeley knows the buzz.
“I like proving people wrong,” Baddeley said. “I felt honored to be a role model.”
In 2009, Baddeley was the placekicker on Petaluma High School’s football team, the one that went 12-1 and made it to the North Coast Section semifinals. The memory of that year surfaced again last weekend when Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller became the woman to play for a Power Five university, thumping a second-half kickoff against Missouri.
It is no trivial accomplishment. Vanderbilt plays in the SEC and there are about five teams in the SEC right now who could beat the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars and, if Derek Carr can’t hold on to the football, the Las Vegas Raiders.
In 2009, Baddeley entered The Club, one populated by teenage boys. Memories of that experience for her flow like water at summertime Yosemite. A sweet memory was during the postgame handshake-head nod-good game salutations, when opposing teams would meet at midfield. Good ol’ No. 6 would pass a guy and then hear something that made her smile.
“Hey, dude, I think that was a chick back there,” Baddeley heard.
Sometimes it wasn’t how she looked.
“Sometimes it was the faint scent of perfume,” said Baddeley, now 28 and training to be a physician’s assistant at UC Davis.
Yes, it’s true. You read it here first ― a placekicker on a football team wore Chanel No. 5. Actually, I don’t know if Baddeley wore Chanel. I’m guessing. I whiffed. Never before had I asked a football player what perfume he wore. Somehow I don’t think Ronnie Lott would have taken it well. Terrell Owens would have stuffed me like an envelope. Didn’t occur to me.
I did ask her about being a teenage girl in a locker room among 50 or so teenage boys. The age, as anyone who’s been through it, it fraught with land mines. Self-control is not among the many fine qualities adolescents possess. Impulsiveness is a character trait. Snapping a towel at the backside of an unsuspecting teammate is considered high humor.
That never occurred. Baddeley dressed in the locker room with the boys but at the far end, in private. She never wandered through the locker room before the game. She just waited for the call to hit the field. Home games would mean a shower at home. Away games would mean a shower at a time mutually exclusive to both genders.
“I gave them their dignity,” she said.
And they, hers.
“I was never really uncomfortable,” Baddeley said. “Well, maybe one time.”
Baddeley was introduced by then-head coach Steve Ellison to the team as the Trojans’ placekicker. Baddeley had a lot of friends on the team but still the subject came up ... sexual sensitivity awareness.
You may begin to squirm now. Baddeley certainly did. Any teenager will look for a trapdoor to escape while his/her parents begin the birds-and-the-bees discussion. That is, if a parent can gather the courage to give that talk.
Try listening to that talk with 50 boys in the room, all of them looking for the trapdoor.
While it’s fair to say a teenage boy’s testosterone can be jet fuel to a kid with idle thoughts, in this case, in that season, the message of mutual respect was delivered and accepted without bristle. The city of Petaluma, even with 59,000 people, is still a small town and whispers travel faster than electricity. No one in Petaluma, whether young or old, wants to be smeared with gossip they might never towel off.