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Coach Kevin Baker an educator first a coach second

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Coach Kevin Baker an educator first a coach second

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Isaiah Ramirez, Staff Reporter

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The epitome of being successful on the basketball court through the implementation of teaching styles and quality motivational lessons is UTEP women’s head basketball coach Kevin Baker.

“I think anybody who claims to be a coach at some point feels like they are a teacher on the floor,” Baker said.

UTEP’s second-year head coach has an extensive college head coaching career consisting of several distinguished honors, including four Division II Lone Star conference coach of the year awards, a Division III NCAA tournament Sweet 16 appearance, and is a three-time coach of the year at the University of Texas at Tyler.

This past season in his first year as the UTEP women’s basketball head coach, Baker’s team went 17-14 and won a game in the Conference USA tournament, a feat that has never been done by a first-year coach in program history.

Before Kevin Baker began making an impact as a coach, he decided he wanted to make an impact as an educator, due to positive influences he was met with in his early upbringings.

“I’m so thankful that some positive people and coaches were put into my life at a young age because I was one of those kids who was teeter-tottering on either becoming a problem or going in the right direction,” Baker said.

“Those positive people stepped in and showed me the right way to do things and supplemented the things that I needed in my life and that had a positive impact on me, and I wanted to translate that same impact I had onto the young people I have taught throughout the years,” Baker said.

For 13 years Kevin Baker was a high school history teacher. Educating students in the state of Texas at Commerce High School, Palestine High School, Nacogdoches High School, and Copperas Cove High School.

During his teaching career, Baker taught future stars in Heisman Trophy winner quarterback Robert Griffin III during his time at Copperas Cove, and four-time U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Clint Dempsey.

“You always know these kids are special but you never really know what they are going to do, and you hope they’re going to do something big and great in those guys cases they sure did,” Baker said.

Coach Baker believes there is a substantial amount of similarities between teaching in the classroom and teaching on the court.

“You would be amazed at how much carryover there is between teaching in the classroom and teaching on the court,” Baker said.

Baker described his three-part teaching method which is something that he has incorporated into his coaching approach.

“Basically one of the very first things you do is you state your expectation, then you teach them, then you reiterate what you just told them,” Baker said.

Off the court, Baker’s teams have excelled in the classroom. Just last season two UTEP standouts Zuzanna Puc and Katarina Zec were awarded the C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medals. This award is given to athletes who finished the year with a 3.75 GPA or better.

“Once they get to that level and once they get to that point we push them to stay there, and we encourage them to stay where they are and continue to put in great work in the classroom,” Baker said.

Blending his coaching tangibles with his experience as an educator has brought Coach Baker plenty of success on both ends of his career. Entering his 17th year as head coach and with a career record of 361 wins and 145 losses Coach Baker has one constant message every year to his players.

“Be the best you can be at whatever you do,” Baker said. “Whether you are in the classroom or on the court, and at the end of the day be the best version of yourself you can possibly be.”

Isaiah Ramirez may be reached at theprospector1@gmail.com.

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