Originally from Billingham in the Northeastern part of England, the associate head coach of Maryville College’s men’s and women’s soccer programs, Jon Baker, began his coaching career as he was playing. Baker first worked in England as a soccer development officer at the same time he was playing semi-pro soccer. It was at this time that Baker made his first trip to the United States with a company that managed summer camps.
This also gave Baker an opportunity to play exhibition games against U.S. semi-pro teams. While in the United States, Baker worked a summer camp in Chattanooga, Tenn. Here he met a coach that opened up the idea for him to play college soccer at Tennessee Wesleyan College.
The following year, in 1995, Baker came back to the states to begin his college soccer career. After Baker wrapped up his playing days, he spent one year as a graduate assistant at TWC, and then in 2000, he began coaching at MC. As he is finishing up his 13th season at MC, Baker is doing something that he has always wanted to do.
“Soccer has always been my passion as a player and playing as a child right up through,” Baker said. “I was never quite good enough to make it as a professional, so to me the next best thing, at least being involved in the game, was to coach. I have always enjoyed being able to pass on my passion of the sport to the players.”
At MC, Baker works in tandem with long-serving head coach Pepe Fernandez with the responsibilities of coaching both the men and women, which is something very unique in the sport at this time. Baker says that in earlier times this was very common but now it is “few and far between.”
Although Baker does not have specific duties to take care of exactly, he still has many tasks to handle. Along with Fernandez, Baker works with all of the field position players. In some instances, Baker has to take control of all the duties if Fernandez is away with the other team. Baker says his two main jobs are recruiting and equipment, but he does “a little bit of everything.”
Other than coaching and organizing things for the two teams, Baker wants to develop good men and women as they come through the program. He also wants the program to have a lasting effect on the player’s life long after they are finished playing.
“First and foremost, you want them to be good people,” Baker said. “You want them to represent the program, themselves and the school well.” Off of the field, Baker is very involved with his family. He is married and has two daughters. When he isn’t coaching, this is where you can find him.
Even though his family life revolves around his coaching job here, he still finds time to be a father at home. He says when he isn’t coaching it is all about spending time with family, which entails anything from helping his kids with homework, to just relaxing and watching television.