Spencer Smith

Baker’s Spencer Smith at bat against Nyssa in May 2019.

Baker High School athletes haven’t been able to compete on the field, track or court this spring, but they’ve been performing at a high level academically all year.

BHS sports teams have consistently been in the top tier of average GPA in most sports, according to the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA).

“We have some high academic achievers in the high school level right now in grades 9 to 12 (and) this trend isn’t going to change for the foreseeable future,” said Tim Smith, BHS baseball coach.

Baker student-athletes not only have to abide by the school district rules, but also the guidelines set by the OSAA.

Although spring sports were canceled in early March, OSAA compiled a list of highest achieving schools for spring sports based on participants’ grades in the first semester.

“It really doesn’t take into account anything that happened at the end of the third quarter or even the fourth,” said Buell Gonzales Jr., Baker School District athletic director.

In spring sports Baker’s baseball team ranked third among Class 4A schools with a team GPA of 3.57.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Smith said. “They’re not just good in the classroom, they’re good everywhere.”

Baker’s girls track and field team was fifth at 3.65, and the boys were eighth with a team GPA of 3.4.

Other spring sports:

• Boys tennis — eighth, 3.4

• Boys golf, fifth, 3.5

“We have a strong junior-season boys group, and they did well,” Gonzales said. “So of course I’m proud.”

Baker’s winter sports teams were also standouts. The boys basketball (3.73) and boys swimming (3.76) teams both had the highest GPA among Class 4A squads. The girls swimming team placed fifth at 3.78, and the Baker wrestlers were seventh at 3.13.

The Bulldog athletic program requires students to meet several standards to be eligible for sports.

“You’re passing all of your classes, you’re in good standing, you have to be in school all day to practice or participate and if you have an absence it needs to fall in the excusable category,” Gonzales said.

“Our kids with our better grades are our student athletes,” Gonzales said. “They do take it seriously and the commitment that it takes to be involved, to be a part of the quality experience.”

Where success lies for these student athletes depends on their time management skills and the effort they put into their studies.

Smith credits his fellow teachers for letting him know when a student-athlete is struggling to stay eligible.

“We have a heart-to-heart, we sit down and we talk,” Smith said. “They are coming to me as a baseball coach and they recognize you as an athlete so we have talks to prevent stuff like this from happening. I credit the high school staff and students for getting the job done.”

Ultimately, Gonzales said, BHS will emphasize that for students academics is the top priority, with extracurricular activities second.

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