Meet Wayland-Weston Crew’s new program director

Meet Wayland-Weston Crews new program director

Credit: Ron Heerema

Mike Baker leans over the trailer, adjusting the boats and strapping them in tightly. He looks up occasionally while working hard to get the boats ready for the regatta, speaking passionately about his goals for the season.

“I want us to be a team. I want the boys, the girls, varsity and novice to realize that when one boat wins, we actually all do,” Baker said. “We all sacrifice for each other, and that’s a hard culture to get people on board with because even though we’re here as an individual, even though we’re here as a boys’ squad or girls’ squad, we’re here really together.”

Baker is the new program director at Wayland-Weston Rowing Association (WWRA). Adam Schayowitz, the head of the WWRA board, says the position was created “to make the program itself sustainable for the future.”

Schayowitz is pleased with the way this new position has been working.

“Mike [Baker] has been just great with both the girls and the boys and bringing the whole club together,” Schayowitz said.

Baker’s responsibilities as program director include coordinating the eight Wayland-Weston coaches, including those for the novice and varsity boys’ and girls’ teams. He also makes sure the coaches have all the equipment they need. Baker has many jobs that involve making sure everybody is compliant with safety, and he is the mediator of issues between parents, coaches and athletes.

Baker also does many of the more common desk jobs that the WWRA requires, like making sure registration is up to date and arranging travel. Not only is he program director, but he is also the head girls’ varsity coach.

This position is nothing new to Baker, who has coached much larger crews before. When he worked at Community Rowing Inc. as the assistant varsity girls’ coach, there were enough people to fill eight or nine boats with nine people in each.

“There were a lot of logistics.” Baker said. “Try boating every single person at least once or twice for a regatta when there are eighty kids, and with that it’s safety first.”

As the varsity girls’ coach, Baker likes to see athletes building on their action goals to improve their performance and prove themselves individually. One of his rowers, WHS sophomore Willa Tise, believes Baker is a supportive coach.

“He is a good mix of being firm and funny,” Tise said. “He finds really minute details that really affect your stroke and overall make the boat faster. He tailors the practices so that each rower gets something out of it.”

According to senior Sarah Maietta, Baker has also been very motivating as a coach.

“He has encouraged a new level of working hard and pushing yourself every day,” Maietta said. “It’s hard to teach someone how to give one hundred percent when you and they both don’t know exactly what one hundred percent is or looks like, but Mike is working with us on that”.

Maietta’s favorite thing about Baker is “his abundance of energy.”

“He has a very focused and energetic coaching style that demands a lot from athletes,” Maietta said. “That, coupled with his experience in the sport, makes him great to work with.”

Baker is working hard to improve the Wayland-Weston Crew team, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed. His athletes are impressed with his work so far and are excited for the future of the WWRA.