Director of Student Life and head varsity girls basketball coach Dr. Troy Baker is leaving Pace this spring to accept a new position as Head of Upper School at Breck School in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Dr. Baker served as Pace’s Athletic Director for five years and this year stepped into a new position as Director of Student Life to help implement the Action Plan for Racial Equity and provide more support to students and families. Throughout his six years at Pace, Dr. Baker has had a major impact on the Pace community.
No one word could describe Dr. Baker, but a few can begin to show the positive influence he has had on many students and faculty. All of his colleagues and players agreed that Dr. Baker is extremely intelligent. “Dr. Baker is kind and resilient,” said Athletic Director Chad Wabrek. “He is clear-minded and a wordsmith,” added Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Joanne Brown. The students on the girls basketball team got to experience Dr. Baker in a separate realm. “He is super competitive, but what stands out more is how empathetic he is,” said senior Hanna Vincent. “He is one of the most passionate and supportive people I know,” said sophomore Ella Berman.
Dr. Baker’s legacy is best understood through the stories of his colleagues and players. “My favorite memory is spreading out as wide as we could in front of the student section to hold kids back from jumping on the court during a Lovett basketball game during the 2019-2020 season,” said Mr. Wabrek. Vincent looked back to a memory from a different basketball game. “My favorite memory was when we were warming up for one of my first games, and a Drake song came on,” said Vincent. “All of a sudden, he just started rapping every single word. I was very impressed and would later understand just how much he loves Drake.”
Mrs. Brown also touched on a funny memory from her time on ICGL trips with Dr. Baker. “ I think my favorite and funniest memory is when we were on our second trip together to Ghana and Botswana,” said Mrs. Brown. “During our flight there we experienced severe turbulence as well as some technical issues with the plane. As I looked to Dr. Baker to share some reassuring words to calm my fears, he looked at me and said “I’m going to sleep” and turned around in his seat and slept through the whole thing!”
Throughout his six years at Pace, Dr. Baker shared his knowledge with the Pace community. “Dr. Baker has taught me not to overthink everything, to trust my instincts, and to hit send on those important communications that needed to happen,” said Mrs. Brown. Mr. Wabrek was struck by Dr. Baker’s focus on relationships. “I have learned strategies from him on how to maintain relationships with people, coaches, parents, adults, especially with folks I no longer work with from other school communities where I have been fortunate enough to work,” he said.
Vincent respects Dr. Baker’s emphasis on character. “Coach Baker not only taught me how to be a better basketball player but also what it means to be a good person,” said Vincent. “From his game-day speeches to his quotes of the day and how he would do anything for his family and our team, he always inspires me to be a good person.” Junior Margo Kaye also touched on Coach Baker’s coaching. “He made sure that every minute we spent in the gym had a purpose,” said Kaye. “He showed me how to manage time and break things down, a concept he hammers home with his famous phrase ‘you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time.'”
As he moves forward with a new chapter in his life, members of the Pace community expressed appreciation for his dedication and his constant strive for excellence. “Thank you for truly being the best coach ever,” said Vincent. “Although I will miss the fist bumps that brighten my day, Minnesota is lucky to have you.” Berman echoed Vincent’s praise of Dr. Baker on the court. “I would like to say thank you for your patience and taking the time to really help me improve,” she said.
“He knows that over these past few years he has become more than a colleague but also a dear friend and brother,” said Mrs. Brown. “Thank you for always entertaining my very different style of communicating a story to you!” Mr. Wabrek remarked on all of the cool accomplishments he and Dr. Baker achieved as a team and had one final message. “Remember that I did play hockey growing up, and at Breck, hockey seems to be a big deal, so if you ever want to chat hockey and/or strategy, give me a call,” he said.