Mitchell Baker joins the Brown staff as Head Coach of Women's Cross Country and Assistant Coach of Track and Field in charge of women's middle and long distance events. Prior to arriving on College Hill, Baker spent four years as an assistant coach at Williams College in Massachusetts, serving first as a cross country assistant and then four years as the primary event coach for the men and women competing in the middle distances.
"I am thrilled to be a part of Brown and look forward to contributing to the student-athletes' experience and the greater community," said Baker. "I have been impressed by the positive and swift momentum built by the program since Coach Eisenreich's promotion to Director of Track and Field and Cross Country. I am honored by the opportunity to be a head coach here, within such a storied academic and athletic conference, and at the highest level of competition in the NCAA."
At Williams, Baker assisted teams that garnered seven finishes in the NCAA top-ten, eleven Division III New England Regional Championships, and eleven New England Small College Athletic Conference titles. As the day-to-day coach of the middle-distance events, ten student-athletes earned a total of twenty-two All-American awards. Of those, ten came by virtue of top-three NCAA finishes, including the men's outdoor 5,000-meter champion in 2010, later named USTFCCCA Outdoor Track Scholar Athlete of the Year. Another of his student-athletes raced to runner-up NCAA Outdoor 1,500-meter finishes in consecutive years, was named New England Regional Athlete of the Year and qualified for the 2009 USATF Senior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, with the eighth fastest time in Division III history. In addition to the All-American performances, student-athletes from his group competed at the NCAA Championships eleven additional times, and fifteen more performances made the NCAA provisional or automatic cut.
On the people he worked with at Williams and where those experiences led him, Baker says, "I was fortunate to work with talented students that did an exceptional job balancing athletic and academic commitments. I am equally thankful that Williams' staff was invested in my career as a coach, so when I met the staff at Brown and recognized, like Williams, a supportive environment and an investment to education at the highest levels available for coach and athlete alike, I knew the opportunities on College Hill were consistent with what I valued."
During the two fall seasons that Baker assisted Pete Farwell, his former coach and the long-time Head of Cross Country at Williams, the men and women's squads earned third-place, podium finishes in 2008 and three athletes earned All-American honors. On his relationship with Coach Farwell, Baker says, "I learned so much from Pete through observation, our many conversations on training and serving students in a rigorous academic setting, and through his initial move to let me head the middle distance group in the track and field season. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities he extended." Academically, the teams nabbed USTFCCCA Academic honors both years with the 2008 men's team earning National Academic Team of the Year.
"The hiring process did nothing but affirm my suspicions that Coach Eisenreich and her staff are hard-working and gifted. The women I met were genuinely enthusiastic about representing Brown and committed to the requisite work of being a great team. With an experienced staff to learn from and a talented team on campus, we'll aim to make a smooth and quick transition but without sacrificing the long-term goals of progression and overall health."
One of four children of Drs. Edward and Molly Baker in Macomb, Illinois, Baker followed his oldest sister into running and by the end of high school had placed runner-up at the state meet three times. He was All-New England and competed three times at the NCAA meet for Williams and, as a senior, was cross country captain and recipient of the program's endowed Plansky (cross country) and Creem (track and field) Awards. He studied Art Studio and, after an archaeology fellowship to France upon graduation, pursued architecture in New York City. Inspired by a winter academic term studying public art at Stanford but also shadowing Coach Frank Gagliano, then of The Nike Farm Team, he coupled architecture with coaching high school, first at LaSalle Academy and then Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx.
Baker completed the USATF Level 1 Education School and was certified by the USTFCCCA Track and Field Academy for the jumping events. Encouraged by his former boss at Williams, Fletcher Brooks, in the fall of 2009 Baker traveled to Kenya and learned from Renato Canova, former Head Coach of Italy, Qatar, and current IAAF Lecturer on Endurance. In his personal life, his greatest influence has been the example and support of his parents.