Waterford’s Baker named Ohio Golf Coach of the Year

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Waterford girls golf coach Cris Baker, far left, is pictured after the Wildcats won the 2017 Waterford Invitational at Lakeside Golf Course in Beverly. Baker was named the 2017 Ohio Girls Golf Coach of the Year.

WATERFORD — Cris Baker bleeds green and white.

OK, OK, not really.

But the Waterford High golf coach is a dedicated Wildcat through and through.

“I am a true Wildcat,” Baker said. “I graduated from Waterford High School and our four children all graduated from Waterford High School.

“Our grandson, Wes Jenkins, who golfs and plays basketball, plans to graduate next year from Waterford High.”

Last month at an Ohio High School Golf Coaches Association (OHSGCA) executive meeting at the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) offices in Columbus, Baker was honored as the state’s girls’ Coach of the Year.

“I was dumbfounded and quite sure there are many more coaches who would be more deserving of this award,” Baker said. “I was very humbled by the recognition.

“I give the credit to my lady golfers and the time and dedication they put into to make their team so successful.”

Since 2015, when Baker became the Waterford girls’ golf coach, she has guided the Wildcats to three consecutive Division II state tournament appearances.

“The seniors this year make up the very first Waterford High School girls golf team,” Baker said. “Josh Arnold was the boys’ and girls’ coach that year (2014). I have coached them for the past three years.”

The coach added, “The girls have won their sectional and district both in each of the last three years. They have qualified for the state golf (Division II) tournament the past three years.

“Golfing at the Ohio State Gray Golf Course, they have finished 12th, 7th,and 8th in the state competition. “

This season’s Waterford seniors were Kenzie Dietz, Liz Leach, Abby Eichmiller, and Bri Hart. Also on the green and white squad were Ashley Offenberger, Rachel Adams, Allie Leach, and Alicia Dickinson.

Dietz was named a 2017 District D2 Player of the Year, while Baker was a D2 Coach of the Year. Offenberger, a junior, was also a first-team district honoree, while Eichmiller an honorable mention.

“There are not many girls’ teams in the area for us to complete against,” Baker said. “We’ve had to travel a lot to find competitive matches. We were fortunate this year to be invited to matches with so very many competitive teams.”

Baker is currently a secretary to the coordinator of Special Ed at Waterford. Before that, she drove a school bus, was a cook and an educational aid.

After graduating from Waterford, Baker became a licensed practical nurse. But the lure to return to her prep alma mater to help in any capacity proved to be irresistible.

“Trying to be a working mom and keeping up with schedules, getting a job in the school seemed like a good plan for me,” she said.

Baker said that she became the girls’ coach “sort of unexpectedly.”

“Josh Arnold was the golf coach,” she continued. “We had never had enough girls for a team before. I had gone to tournament as the school representative a couple times with Randi Seevers when the boys’ and girls’ tournaments fell on the same day.

“I was asked if I wanted to help Josh with the girls’ team. Thinking I would be an assistant coach, I said I would. Josh got busy with the boys’ team and it just kind of happened I was the varsity girls’ coach.”

Baker’s husband is Roger, and their children are Shellie Baker, Lori Jenkins, Amy Newton, and Joey Baker.

“Roger is very supportive of the time the job takes, and he really enjoyed following girls,” Cris Baker said. “Joey was a member of the Waterford High School boys’ golf team that were state qualifiers in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

“It was very special to experience state golf as a parent and then again as a coach. Three years for both teams is quite an achievement.”