VANCOUVER - BC Rugby is proud to recognize Brad Baker, President of the BC High School Girls Rugby Association and Head Coach of the Carson Graham girls rugby team through the First XV Volunteer Appreciation Program.
Brad has been instrumental in developing age grade women's rugby in the province having coached at Carson Graham for the last 17 years and serving as BCHSGRA President for the last nine seasons. During the 2012 high school season Brad played a key part in launching the BC High School Girls Provincial Sevens Championship into a full scale 16-team event at UBC. This past week, the BCHSGRA just wrapped up the 2012 XVs championship in North Vancouver and Baker's Carson Graham team lifted their seventh straight Triple-A provincial title. The event welcomed 24 teams from across the province and was held at two venues over the course of three days. Baker has also served as the U18 women's coach at Capilano RFC, as the U18 BC women's provincial team coach and as a national selector for the Under-19 women's national team.
Before the full summer season kicks off we caught up with our latest First XV Volunteer and pieced together this interview…
1. How long have you been involved as a volunteer with rugby? How many years as a coach?
I have been a volunteer with rugby for the last 17 years. During that time I have coached for those 17 years and for the last 9 years I have been the President of the BC High School Girls Rugby Association.
2. Why is volunteering important to you and why have you dedicated so many hours to the sport?
Volunteering is important because I am able to give back to the community and more importantly to the student athletes. By being involved at the school level, I am able to work with the student athletes to enhance their school life and make school enjoyable to go to and have them feel proud in competing for their school. The majority of my years of volunteering have been in the girls game which has allowed me to see the game grow over the last decade or so. The female student athletes deserve to be respected and should demand the best coaching be made available to them.
3. What is the secret to balancing so many hours of rugby with your professional life?
The big thing is to be humble and surround yourself with great people who have the same ideologies as you. You need to work in a team to be successful.
4. Can you tell us a bit about your playing career? How did you first get involved with rugby?
My playing career was very limited to the high school level. I attended Sutherland Secondary in North Vancouver where I played rugby for 5 years. I was no. 8 and we were not a very good team. It was more of a high school sport for me due to the fact that I went on and played a high level of soccer where I was able to represent my province and my country. When my soccer career was finally done, I came back and played lacrosse and competed at the highest level in the Western Lacrosse Association (Senior A) for the North Shore Indians.
5. What clubs/high school programs have you been involved with as a player/coach/volunteer?
I have been involved in the Carson Graham rugby program since my teaching career began there in 1994. I first started out by helping to coach the Grade 8 boys teams. That spring, the first ever girls team started at Carson Graham with Dave Smortchevsky being the main coach. Basically, when I started at Carson Graham the rugby program was in full swing and I was asked to help out. I am very grateful that I did so, because rugby has now become my passion. I also coached at the Capilano Rugby Club with their U-18 women's team for two years in the early 2000's. I have been the head coach for BC U18 program for the last 6 years. I have also been a selector for Canada U-19 women's teams in previous years.
6. As a coach, who has been your biggest inspiration?
There are two people who have been an inspiration to me over the years that I have been involved in rugby. The first was Doug Barker, a long time rugby coach at Carson Graham. Doug was able to teach me not only the game of rugby but what it takes to lead young student athletes into battle. The passion, determination and desire that Doug had for his players left an everlasting footprint in mind. The second person has been Rick Pimlott. I have been lucky to work with him at Carson for the last 10 years but also for BC the last 6 years. Rick has taught me the patience it takes to work with elite athletes. He has also taught me to be a better coach and how I can relay the strengths of my coaching to bring the best out of the athletes. Without these two individuals I would not be the kind of coach I am today.
7. Who is your current favourite rugby player and why?
My favourite player is Richie McCaw. The way he plays, always on the edge, is the way that I would want all of my players to play. He is also the ultimate team guy and leads by example.
8. Do you see yourself leaving the game of rugby any time soon?
I can see the light at the end of tunnel. I am still enjoying what I am doing with the game - coaching and administration, because I know the young players are benefiting. Will the time come to leave? Yes in the next couple of years.
9. What is your greatest rugby memory either as a player, coach or as a volunteer?
My greatest rugby memory would be winning the first ever BC Championships for Carson Graham in Kamloops. It was done though a lot of hard work by the athletes. It was also a great memory because Carson Graham was finally able to get over that hump of not winning the big game.
About the First XV Volunteer Appreciation program
The First XV Volunteer Appreciation program is an initiative designed to recognize the valuable pillars of our membership that help keep our sport afloat. Over the course of the 2011-2012 season we will recognize 15 valuable members of the community. Each recognized volunteer will be presented with a "thank you" item, a customized BC Rugby Umbrella. Each individual will then receive another 10 thank you items to show their appreciation to the 10 top volunteers they work with.
2012 First XV Volunteers
Mark Aplas (Kats RFC)
Ian Maclean (Castaway Wanderers)
Steph Murphy (United Rugby Club)
Ryan McWhinney (Abbotsford RFC)
Tere Blake (Scribes RFC and BCRRS)
Brad Baker (Carson Graham and BCHSGRA)