Reno’s Newest Ace: Making History in the Pacific Coast League

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Emily Jaenson, seen here, is the highest-ranking female in Minor League Baseball. (Photo via the Reno Aces)

The Arizona Diamondbacks Triple-A team, the Reno Aces, made major league news last week, announcing the recent hiring of Emily Jaenson as the team’s new General Manager. The move makes Jaenson the highest-ranking female in Minor League Baseball; the second GM in Reno Aces history, and the first female GM in the Pacific Coast League in almost twenty years.

As a lifelong sports fan and ambitious business professional, Jaenson is thrilled with the position and eager to get started, as it is essentially an extension of “who she is, what she does, and what she is most passionate about.”

“We are extremely excited to have Emily rejoin our team. She was consistently a superstar in her time in Reno, leading her team to success and influencing all aspects of our business,” said President Eric Edelstein. “Emily is a true leader. I’m thrilled to inject her energy, intelligence, and work ethic back into our Greater Nevada Field.”

Recognizing the unique reality of being a female in her position, Jaenson said that while she’s, “[there] to get to work, plain and simple- man, woman, or otherwise,” she does recognize the incredible opportunity to show young girls that a career in sports business is entirely possible, including at the highest level. The feedback and support the new GM has gotten has been incredible, with many reaching out personally or on social media to encourage the female trailblazer. In fact, while we were on the phone, Jaenson was contacted by the Girl Scouts to tell her what an inspiration she was.

Reno’s Mayor, Hillary L. Schieve, continued with the praise, lauding Jaenson for how personable and talented she is.

“What a wonderful person she is, and she’s also very dedicated to the community, the mayor of the city, I’m incredibly proud. It shows that females are breaking stereotypes and barriers all the time.”

Jaenson’s background is particularly well-suited for this opportunity. Her interest in and affinity for sports goes way back.

“I grew up with sports a common theme in my life…building a foundation in the love of competition.”

The sports junkie played soccer, basketball, cross-country, track, and as the middle child growing up with two brothers in a somewhat rural area outside Chicago, “athletics were our childhood.”

Jaenson went on to pursue a degree in advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was first hired by the Chicago Bulls in their ticket office. It was there that she got a thorough understanding of what lays at the foundation of the sports business.

“I cut my teeth in sales. That’s part of who I am,” said Jaenson, describing her first job in sports, “Grinding out 80+ calls a day…that made it apparent that ticket sales is the lifeblood of any sports organization.”

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Growing up with sports, breaking into the business in sales, and learning the valuable lesson of the importance of ticket sales makes Jaenson an excellent fit for her new role.

She attributes her ability to break boundaries and rise to such a prominent position with the Aces to a Steve Martin quote that’s framed in her office and one that she adheres to. “‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ That quote is a thread of who I am, and what I bring to all jobs and endeavors…it’s the core of my being.”

With the Diamondbacks mostly responsible for the roster, Jaenson’s primary focus in her role is on the business operations side of the organization. As a member of the executive team, what Jaenson loves most about her new position is, “the ability to be a contributor- impacting everything from leadership to finances and communication. It’s the business that drives my enthusiasm and my drive really comes from the business of baseball.”

Like with everything she does, Jaenson strives to be the best, making the Reno Aces the best in the business almost by proxy.

“70 home games a year entertaining fans. Working behind the scenes to create a great experience for fans and for players who have worked their entire lives to get here…that’s our business,” Jaenson noted.  

That emphasis on entertainment is a major initiative and driving force behind her plans with the team; contributing to make the game more accessible, and sharing the opportunity to create lasting memories. “After all, that’s what it’s all about- making memories,” Jaenson pointed out.

That’s one of the particular advantages offered by Triple-A baseball. It’s about affordable fun for the whole family, with the entire emphasis on the consumer. Reno’s new GM mentioned that “not everybody that comes to Aces games is a baseball fan; it’s all about the entertainment and experience. Whether it be actually being keyed into the game, playing on the playground, taking in a beautiful sunset, or trying the food, drinks, and other fun things taking place at the ballpark.”

Jaenson’s other main focus is being a positive contributor to the community, on both a personal level and for the Aces as a larger baseball organization. That trait is a major part of her personality, as she noted that, “good things come to those who work their tails off, keep in touch, and maintain giving relationships.”

Whether it be personally connecting others with job opportunities and acting as a “steward of her network,” or more broadly with the team by providing positive experiences, encouraging accessibility, and building strong relationships within the community, giving back is her personal mission.

As one of only two professional teams in the area, Jaenson’s goal for the Reno Aces is to be a proud pillar of the community, dedicated to “giving back, offering inclusive and engaging experiences at our ballpark…whether it be with the games, the three adjoining restaurants, or the outdoor stage providing a place to hold events and even recently hosting a wedding.”

Given her background, experience, and personality it’s evident that the Aces are going to be glad that when they called Jaenson to be their new GM, she said, “Let’s go!”