Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

September 18, 2013

Baker leads Panthers' charge

GARDNER — Brooke Baker has been a soccer player since she was able to walk. Playing on her first team as a pre-schooler in Richmond, Va., Baker is now a senior captain for the PikeView Panthers.

“I started soccer when I was three years old,” Baker said. “I played for the Alliance P.A. for three seasons and then we moved back here and I got started at East River and have been playing ever since.”

Girls soccer at PikeView is a strong sport, having made the state tournament two of the past three seasons. Baker was on both of those teams and hopes that 2013 can be another banner year. She explains what the team must do.

“We’re going to have to put in the work not only on the field, but outside of the field also,” Baker said. “We really have to work on getting the ball to the back of the net. We’re having a little trouble doing that. I think we’re not playing with as much of an urgency as we need to once we get the ball into the attacking half of the field.”

Injuries hit the Lady Panthers early in the season as the team lost starters Hope Nester, Madison May and Chrysta Meekins, but Baker said the team must go forward and so far the girls have come together.

“Everybody has clicked really well even with the injuries we’ve had on the team,” Baker noted. “To have as many injuries as we’ve had and still put 11 strong players on the field, it’s really great.”

Baker’s coach talked about the senior midfielder.

“She’s had to work hard to get to be the player she is today,” Sam Hill said. “She’s worked hard on her fitness and she has worked hard on her game.

“As an underclassman she had a lot of strong personalities as upperclassmen in front of her and she has really embraced the leadership of this team, really done a nice job of putting this team up on her back emotionally. Soccer wise the leadership has been fantastic with her.”

This season Baker leads the team with six goals and has three assists, which ranks her third. For her career she has scored 11 goals and dished out 18 assists. During her years with the Panthers the squad has a 58-15-5 record with three sectional titles, two regional championships and two Coalfield Conference crowns. Baker talked about her position with the team.

“My main role within the team is not only leadership as a senior and as a captain, but also being a defensive mid I have to play up on offensive and back on defense,” Baker said. “Me and Sophie Klein have to work to control the middle and just move the ball from defense to offense and get the ball back when we lose it.”

In addition to her position as a midfielder, Baker takes the team’s corner, direct and indirect kicks.

While Baker is also a member of the PVHS softball team, she indicated that her heart is with soccer.

“It (soccer) is my favorite and I think it might be because I am a little bit better at soccer than at softball. Plus, I have been playing soccer since I could walk. I don’t know life without it.”

The elder daughter of Beth and Donnie Baker, Brooke gives credit for her success in sports and life to her parents and the support she gets from her younger sister, Kendall who chose to wear her big sister’s No. 25 as a member of the PikeView Middle School soccer team.

“My mom and dad mean the absolute world to me. They really are the people who got me into soccer. They really inspired me to work hard,” Baker said. “They’ve always taught me that you get out what you put into something. I’ve kept that in my mind not only in sports, but in school and the clubs that I’m in.”

Baker is active in many clubs at PikeView and is in the leadership of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Students against Drunk Driving (SADD), Raze and is vice president of the Youth Leadership of America (YLA).

Upon graduation next spring she would like to attend Virginia Tech and major in biology with dreams of becoming a veterinarian specializing in large animals.

Baker and the Panthers host James Monroe this evening at 5 p.m.

— Contact Bob Redd at

bredd@bdtonline.com

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