The State of Idaho has had its fair share of college lacrosse success stories. Since the high school game was introduced in 1999, many kids have gone on to play MCLA ball, while a handful have found homes at the Division III and Division II levels. Currently, however, no men’s lacrosse players have gone directly from an Idaho High School squad to an NCAA Division 1 roster. That will change next year when Idaho goalie from Meridian High School senior Michael Baker takes the field for the Robert Morris University Colonials.
Lacrosse All Stars had a chance to catch up with Michael and discuss his thoughts on being the only men’s D1 recruit in Idaho’s history.
Lacrosse All Stars: Congrats again on your achievement Michael. For starters, when did you start playing lacrosse, and what motivated you to get started?
Michael Baker: I started playing in the youth leagues in 6th grade. But in 5th grade my brother started playing lacrosse and I saw him playing it so I wanted to try it out. So my parents bought me a pair of gloves and a stick. I started throwing the ball around with my brother and liked it so I decided to play the next year.
LAS: When you play in a smaller market it can be hard to tell where your skill level really lies. When did you realize that Division 1 was a real option for you?
MB: Playing Division 1 was always a dream of mine but I wasn’t sure if I could make it. But when I got invited to Jake Reid’s Blue Chip Camp after my 8th Grade Year I realized that I did have a chance at it. I wasn’t able to go that year though because I was too young. But when I got the call from Jake Reid two summers ago inviting me again to his camp I knew that was my way to get noticed by Division 1 coaches.
LAS: Robert Morris is nowhere near Idaho. How did they happen to spot you?
MB: I attended the Sonoma Shootout and played really well there. After I got home I was looking at the list of schools that were suppose to be there and I saw Robert Morris was on that list. So I sent the Head Coach Bear Davis an email asking if he saw me play there. He actually didn’t see me play because his goalie coach does all of the recruiting for goalies so he wasn’t even looking at the goalies. But when I was back east visiting colleges over the summer I asked if I could come by their school and visit. Coach Davis asked if I could come by that day and play in a pick up game. I said sure if you could get me some gear. So I went to the pick up game that night and Coach Davis and his goalie coach Andrew McMinn was there to watch me, and liked how I played. And that’s how it all began.
LAS: How would you describe lacrosse in Idaho?
MB: Lacrosse in Idaho is definitely growing. There are some very good players in this state. But it’s really hard to get noticed by colleges when you live out west and in a state where most people don’t even know lacrosse exists. I think it won’t be too long until more kids from Idaho are playing at higher levels in college. Kids are starting to play lacrosse at younger ages than most of us in high school right now. So by the time they get to our age they will be very talented players.
LAS: What does the State need to get to the next level?
MB: I think that for the state to get to the next level they need to put a lot more effort in developing kids in the youth leagues. I think most people in the state just want to coach high school. All the high school players who graduate go straight to coaching high school. So in the youth leagues you have dads who don’t know the sport or fundamentals all that well teaching the kids. So then when those kids get to high school they don’t know much and they have to be taught everything.
LAS: You’re the first male Idaho player to play NCAA D1 ball straight out of high school. What does that mean to you?
MB: It means a lot to me. There have been some very good players out of Idaho but it feels good to be the first to make it to D1. And it’s not like there haven’t been very talented players in Idaho but I guess I was just the lucky one to make it to D1. I will try my best to represent Idaho well.
LAS: If you read Lacrosse All Stars you know that we’re really big on flow. You’ve been rocking the helmet flow for a while now. Does lacrosse influence the hair style?
MB: I think it very much so influences the hair style. I buzzed my hair my whole life until 6th grade (which is when I started playing lacrosse) when I decided to grow it out and I have had this flow ever sense.
LAS: Your brother just got the head coaching job at your high school. What do you think Meridian’s chances are in 2010 with you in the cage and your brother on the sidelines? Will the Bakers bring home the trophy?
MB: I’m very excited about this up coming year. We had Meridian’s best season ever last year and we hope to build on it this year. We will be giving it everything we got to win the championship. There is some good competition in the league this year but we think we have what it takes to win it all. We will have to put in a lot of hard work and dedication but I believe we can do it.