Liz Pardo makes history as baseball gets back to normal

While it will probably be the COVID-19 pandemic that headlines the 2020 chapter of baseball in history books for years to come, we shouldn't just flip through all of the encouraging pages that were written in this unforgettable year.

Women broke barriers that stood for too long across the game and the Orioles had a front row seat.

One of those women was Maryland native Liz Pardo, who became the first woman to be hired as a coach in the Orioles organization.

"Women shouldn't feel bad about doing things that 'men do.' It's not a man's thing, it's just a thing," Pardo said.

Pardo was finishing up her graduate degree and her tenure as a strength and conditioning grad assistant at Georgia College and State University while working for several athletic teams when she was hired by the Orioles.

"It's definitely been a roller coaster, to say the least," she said.

She finalized things with her graduate thesis project, packed up her apartment and left school early to head down south for spring training. It was a whirlwind of a start to her new career, all just to be sent home 10 days later.

"It was definitely a stressful start," Pardo said, but it was a stressful time for everyone else, too.

"Not only am I the new person, but it was like everyone is the new person because no one has experienced COVID working for baseball."

After spring training was ultimately cut short, Pardo's job as a strength and conditioning coach in the minor league system shifted. She worked with more than 30 players spread out across the country, keeping them in shape mentally and physically. All virtually, of course.

"We have to make sure we are doing just the right amount to get them where they need to be," Pardo said.

Now they need to be ready for the 2021 minor league season that opens up in just under a week. This go-around, Pardo's job looks a lot more normal. She spent the past month in Sarasota and will start her first normal season with the club as low Single-A Delmarva's strength and conditioning coach.

Beyond that, she hopes to be the role model for young girls that she never had.

"When I was younger, there really weren't a lot of women in sports yet," she said. "If I can change one girl's outlook on herself, then I've done my job."

"Liz Pardo" will be marked in Orioles history forever. She just hopes her name is the first of many on a long list to come.

"By getting more qualified women in baseball, more qualified women see that and can put themselves in that position," Pardo said. "So the more that we do diversify, the more women are going to feel that they can just do it."

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