Coach Baker Weekend marks 10th year
"It's a nice event to raise money for Coach Baker's fund and a great way for both the Hoosick Falls and Cambridge communities to honor his legacy," said Hoosick Falls football coach Ron Jones. "Coach Baker made a big impact in my life and in many others lives as well. This is a nice way for all of us to come together and thank him for what he did for us."
Coach Ken Baker was a teacher and coach in the East Greenbush, Hoosick Falls and Cambridge school districts.
Baker coached both football and wrestling, while also being a physical education teacher. He also served as athletic director during his time at Cambridge.
When he retired from coaching in 1995, Baker finished with 151 wins as a football coach during his tenures at both Hoosick Falls and Cambridge.
"Coach Baker was a role model for me growing up and made a huge impact on the kids he coach in both communities," Jones said. "He helped instill the values that each program still uses to this day. His success as a coach and who he was off the field, instilled a winning tradition that us as coaches are continuing here at Hoosick Falls and Cambridge."
Jones played for Baker during his time at Hoosick Falls, while Cambridge football coach Doug Luke coached alongside Baker when he was the coach of the Indians in the early 1990s.
Both Jones and Luke have continued Baker's winning tradition, combining for three state championships.
Luke has 191 career wins as a coach, while Jones stands just 10 wins shy of his mentor's mark with 141 career victories.
One of the most proud days for Baker, Jones remembers is when both the Hoosick Falls and Cambridge football teams played for a state championship in 2003.
"I remember talking to his wife about that day and how proud he was of both programs making it to the championship game," Jones said. "That was a thrill for him to see both programs he helped established, playing for a state championship and also to see players he coached and people he coached with, leading those teams there."
The festivities for the weekend event will begin on Saturday with a golf and basketball tournament, being held at the Hoosick Falls Country Club and the Hoosick Falls Central School respectively. A barbecue lunch will be done for the people at the Country Club.
All proceeds from the event will go towards the Ken Baker scholarship fund. Each year, a scholarship is given to one Hoosick Falls senior and one Cambridge senior who possesses the qualities of Coach Baker through respect, perseverance, hard work and a love of competition.
"The scholarship is something we feel passes along the core values that Coach Baker impacted on those he touched," Jones said. "It's become a very competitive award and we have many applicants from each school apply for it every year. Hopefully it will last forever."
Last year's winners, Anna Wysocki and Andy Romack, were each awarded a $2,000 scholarship from the Coach Baker fund.
The Coach Baker fund also grants some of its profits to non-profit organizations in the area as well.
The Hoosick Falls wrestling team also sponsors a Ken Baker Tournament in the winter each year, with a award in honor of Baker given out to the wrestler that exhibits the late coach's values.
Unlike in years past, there will be no formal Friday night dinner or auction sponsored by the committee this year.
Since Baker passed away in 2008, Jones and many others that were touched by him have helped support Baker's wife, Ann, and his family by setting up this fundraiser to help teach others what their dear mentor taught them.
A man whose personality was larger then life, Jones said, Coach Baker impacted many lives over his time coaching and teaching.
From being a huge supporter of integrating girls sports into the school's curriculum, to helping players like Jones find the skills on the football field that would further help them off the field in life itself, Coach Baker left a lasting legacy that will always be remembered.
"Coach really harped on character and giving it your all in anything that you do," Jones said. "Those life teachings have never left my side and anytime I'm doing something, I think about what he would say and that I know it would be to go all out and do it right. Coach was a role model to many people and he will always be apart of my life.
Reach assistant sports editor Steven Bassin at 802-447-7567 ext 112 or @SBassin_Banner
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