Cavalier Corner

June 2019

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cavalier sports 6 CAVALIER CORNER five questions with Fourth-Year Track And Field Athlete Jade Baker Baker set a school record with a toss of 63.61 meters in the hammer throw at the ACC Outdoor Championships May 9‑11 in Charlottesville. PHOTO BY JIM DAVES/COURTESY UVA F ourth-year Jade Baker was recruited by Virginia to be a sprinter coming out of Covenant Christian High School in North Rich- land Hills, Texas. That makes sense considering that she won state championships in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races during her prep career. She also captured a pair of state titles in the long jump. However, after arriving on Grounds, UVA coaches saw potential in her as a thrower, so she made the switch. Earlier this season, she set a school record with a toss of 63.61 meters in the hammer throw at the ACC Outdoor Championships May 9-11 in Charlottesville. Cavalier Corner: You were recruited by several schools — Notre Dame and Harvard for law school, and Baylor, Maryland, Stanford and Virginia for undergrad. What were the factors that influenced you to enroll at Virginia? Baker: "My mother [Nevada Tinsley] came here and she was an ACC champion in the 100-meter dash. I trusted the program here. "When they called me out of the blue four months after my re- cruiting process ended, I originally did not want to go, but my mom encouraged me to venture out. I fell in love with the school and my teammates. It was the best visit I had by far." Cavalier Corner: You were recruited as a sprinter, and then switched to hurdles and eventually to the hammer throw. Why did you make that change? Baker: "In my first year, I trained with the hurdlers and my second year I switched to the hammer throw. I'm built too strong. My build is too big for a sprinter. I was having trouble adjusting to collegiate sprinting because I always had been a soccer player in high school. "I just did track on the weekends in the spring because I was naturally fast. When I got to college and had to do it year round, it was hard for my body. "Because I have the build of European hammer throwers, the coaches decided I should try it. I really didn't have a part in the decision." Cavalier Corner: How difficult was it to make that adjustment? Baker: "Learning to throw hammer was the hardest thing I've ever done because it takes different motions than you have in any other sport. You have to be technically sound to be successful. "I was up against the challenge of learning seven years in two years. It was something where I decided to dig down and give it my best and it came together quickly." Cavalier Corner: Your first hammer throw carried 42 meters. This spring you set a school record with a throw of 63.61 meters. How have you become so proficient in this event? Baker: "I think the reason for the jump is trusting Coach [Martin] Maric. When I threw 42 meters, I didn't think I would ever be good at it and just did it because it was what I was supposed to do. "Two years later, it's what I love to do. Coach Maric has instilled confidence in me in terms of what I'm good at." Cavalier Corner: You want to do post-graduate work and pursue a career in sports law. Why did you decide on this area? Baker: "I grew up in the sports industry. My father [Brian Baker, the assistant head coach at Alabama] has been a professional football coach. I've always been intrigued by the operational side of profes- sional sports including player contracts. "I want the opportunity to represent the players I grew up around and get the best deals I can for them." — Mike Scandura

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