Baker will battle for a spot in the Spider lineup
Sean Baker has had to deal with expectations placed on him for years now. Whether they are by him or by other people, they seem to always be met. Baker seems to always outdo himself each and every year.
A four-year starter under Mark Allinson at Salisbury, he came in to the program not well known as a freshman. That soon changed after a productive first season. He was named a second team All-Colonial League that year and one-upped himself by being selected to the first team as a junior.
None of those accolades or awards meant anything to Baker, though. He wanted his team to win. And as a captain his senior year in 2010, Baker brought home District 11 gold for the Falcons, while also collecting individual honors including being selected for the All-State team by the Pennsylvania State Coaches Association.
"I never really tried to focus on these outside expectations people may put on me," Baker said. "I just try to work as hard as I can to be the best player and teammate I can be. Whether it's in the offseason or regular season, I never want to get outworked."
Hard work sure does pay off. It shows for Baker, who played in 15 games, starting six, as a freshman at the University of Richmond. The team finished one win shy of a playoff berth and it stuck in the mind of Baker.
"My main goal this year is to remain confident," said Baker. "We have some experienced guys back this year, only losing two seniors. I want to compete for an A-10 championship. I want us to prove that we are a strong program and to make a name for ourselves."
Baker will have to wait for his time to shine, at least at the start of this season. He had surgery on his right hip this summer and is rehabbing to get back to full strength.
"Unfortunately I had to have this surgery this summer," said Baker. "I plan to start running soon. I'm hoping to get cleared in the beginning of September. My main goal is to get as healthy as I can as quickly as I can. I want to try and win a spot in the team around the middle of the season. That will be a challenge for me, but I want to show I deserve to be on the field."
It will be tough earning his spot back, seeing that the Spiders return many younger players, including Baker, who saw significant minutes a year ago. Baker acknowledged there is also a strong freshman class coming in. So the heat will be on, but that builds team chemistry. That is one of the reasons Baker chose Richmond over an offer from Duquesne.
"The main reason I chose Richmond was because of the academics," Baker said. "I didn't want to choose a school solely for athletics. I wanted to make sure that there would be a perfect combination of the two. The fact that Richmond gives me a great education and Division I soccer experience was hard to pass up."
The business administration major, who also concentrates on finance and accounting, is a standout in the classroom as well as the field. He came into Richmond as an honor roll student and a member of the National Honor Society at Salisbury High School.
Richmond's business school is ranked 15th in the nation. Balancing soccer and school work would be tough for anyone, but Baker finds a way, even if it means taking away some time for himself and friends.
Baker scored four goals during his freshman season, but none was bigger than the game-winner he had against conference rival Saint Joeseph's in overtime.
"That goal was probably the best goal I ever scored," said Baker. "It was a very hot day and in the 110th minute where everyone is so tired, the ball was played into the [penalty] box. There was a scramble for it and one of our players got a foot on it, but hit the crossbar. It came to me and I was able to hit it in. To get a win at home in a conference game, it was very exciting, especially for me."
Luck may have been on his side there, but it is a goal well deserved for a player that works so hard to succeed.
Soccer started at age of five for Baker, playing for a Saint Thomas More elementary school club team. He has an older brother and two older sisters, one of which was also a standout athlete at Salisbury. With family being a role model, Baker knew he could succeed, and was proud to do that at Salisbury.
His senior year, Baker captained two teams (soccer and basketball) to two District 11 championships.
"That was the best way to go out," said Baker. "The three years before that, I never won anything. I didn't want to leave Salisbury without having won something for that school. It was an unbelievable feeling, one I will never forget, leading those two teams to titles.
"Salisbury was definitely a great school for me. It was small, I had great teammates, friends, and coaches. Coach Allinson and Coach Weaver both have great reputations around the Lehigh Valley. I was just surrounded by great people who want to represent the Salisbury community in a good manner."
Still only being a sophomore, Baker has aspirations of going professional on a different level other than sports. He enjoyed learning under a former professional soccer player and Salisbury alum Jason Yeisley, but isn't sure if soccer will be there for him all of his life.
"I don't know if I have the aspirations to go pro after graduation," said Baker. "If I really thought I could, I would love to. But my main goal is to work hard to pursue my dream of working in the business industry."