By Cole Ray
Brian Baker, coach men and women’s cross country team, is in his 21st year at Gardner-Webb. He began his career as an athlete in ninth grade when joined the cross country team. After college, Baker ran professionally for a few season, then he began working with a high school team. He enjoyed helping in this capacity which led him to his next step as a D3 college coach. He then moved up to D1 with Gardner Webb as assistant track coach and head cross county coach in 2001. Baker has 85 conference champions on the men’s and women’s sides over two leagues with Gardner-Webb and has coached numerous stand-outs during his tenure at GWU.
Get to know Coach Baker:
How did you get into coaching?
Baker: After I graduated college and was running a little bit professionally. I started working with the high school team. I helped coach them, and I kind of enjoyed that. So the next step, I started coaching in D3 team, then from there I moved up to D1 team.
How did you come to work for Gardner-Webb?
Baker: They had a position open and it was a Christian environment, which was something that was appealing to me. So I applied for the job and they hired me as assistant track and head cross country coach.
Have you ever had a runner who you knew was going to stand out?
Baker: I think each runner here develops to be better and hopefully if they stay healthy and do everything that I ask. If they do that above and beyond, then they can go on and do the best that they can and be the best that they are.
What is your favorite part about coaching cross country?
Baker: I love getting up in the mornings with the group and getting them out the door, getting them running. Just watching them train on a daily basis.
What is your favorite part about Gardner-Webb?
Baker: I love Gardner-Webb’s atmosphere as far as being a Christian school and being able to profess my faith.
What was your best season?
Baker: For the cross country team the season of 2007 or 2008. As an individual, we had an individual champ back in 2002, and then we had a guy who was pretty close to individual champ in 2008 I believe.
What was most challenging season?
Baker: Probably the Covid year, last year.
What do you expect from this season?
Baker: So far this season, I think this team is working really hard, harder than we have worked then we have worked in a few years. We’re keeping healthy which is a big part of it so we’re running pretty well right now. So I think we can do some great things this year.