Joel Baker announced his resignation as the head coach and athletic director at Baird High School on Wednesday after accepting a job as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Springlake-Earth earlier in the day.
The decision to leave the Bears, who won the independent six-man state championship last fall, did not come easy for Baker. The veteran coach did say that he was making the move for his family, though.
“It’s just the best decision for our family as we are going to be closer to my son (Brenden), who is going to school in Lubbock, and my daughter (Carsann) is going to be going to (West Texas A&M) so we will be exactly halfway between the two,” he said. “That is a big factor, and I’m going to work for a superintendent that I used to work for.”
Baker’s daughter will be a senior this year at Springlake-Earth, her third high school in four years, before heading to nursing school at WTAMU. That played a part in the difficult decision to leave the Bears.
“It’s a situation where we are closer to my mother- and father-in-law and with our kids,” he said. “It puts us close to all of them and it was difficult moving before Carsann’s senior year.”
Like Baird, Springlake-Earth is in Class 1A Division I, but the earliest that the Bears and Wolverines could meet in the playoffs is the state championship game. The Wolverines are in Region I while the Bears are in Region IV.
Baker’s departure leaves the Bears in a tight spot during the COVID-19 pandemic and was something that he said he also took into consideration.
Baird has a talented squad returning — a factor Baker sees as beneficial for his successor.
“It was a big factor and I firmly believe that the COVID situation is a huge factor all across the state,” he said. “The things that usually would happen at the end of April are happening at the first of June.”
Baker was very complimentary of his players and optimistic about their future.
“We have good kids here on both the boys and girls side, and Baird is set up for success over the next couple of years,” the coach said. “We had a great junior class coming in and we started three sophomores on defense last year.”
Baker’s successor will inherit a squad that returns three offensive and four defensive starters in 2020 — led by linebacker Cedar Cauble. Cauble was a first team all-state linebacker last year while quarterback Nate Deel and offensive lineman Braeden Ramirez were both honorable mention all-state selections.
“We have experience and are good fundamentally,” Baker said. “I think it will be a good situation for whoever decides to take it on.”
2/2 …. We appreciate all of the blood, sweat and tears given by our athletes and believe a firm foundation has been laid which will lead to the bell being rung many times in the future.
— Baird Bears (@baird_bears) June 3, 2020