Dana Baker’s soccer career started when she was five years old. “It probably wouldn’t be considered soccer at that age, as I was usually swinging from the goal posts or picking the dandelions, but yeah, I was put into soccer at age five,” jokes Baker. Now at the end of her five years of eligibility with the Bisons women’s soccer team, she has been selected as a Canada West second team All-Star and takes the game very seriously.
Baker has many memories from her time with the Bisons. “Some of my memories are great and funny, and there are some really upsetting ones. As in life, sports have their ups and downs, but you learn from every experience,” she explains. Baker looks back proudly at her rookie year in 2005, the team’s inaugural year in the Canada West conference. “We were playing on our home turn against the Lethbridge Pronghorns and I had scored our team’s very first goal ever off of a header. That same game, I had another goal off of another header!” For Baker, this was a huge accomplishment as an individual player.
Also notable to Baker was last year’s Canada West playoff game against the University of Alberta Pandas in the quarter finals. The Bisons always struggled against the U of A team, but they played a phenomenal game that day beating the Pandas 4-0. Baker also recalls two heartbreaking losses to the University of Victoria in her career. In the semi-finals last year, the Bisons lost to the U of V in a penalty shoot-out, and in the semi-finals the year before that, the Bisons lost with less than two minutes left in double overtime.
For Baker, the lasting friendships that she has established with her teammates have led her to consider them to be her second family. One of the things she loves most about the game is “the energy and the excitement of suiting up in the change room with the girls and then stepping onto the field and wanting that win so badly. It feels amazing when the team strings together some great plays and puts it in the back of the net.” Baker also values the fun times the team has had together. She recalls being on the road with the team one Halloween in Victoria and they all decided to dress up and go trick or treating in downtown Victoria.
Soccer has taught Baker many life lessons that she considers to be important: discipline, dedication and patience. She takes these lessons into the classroom as she is finishing her psychology degree and planning to write the MCAT this summer with the hopes of pursuing a career in medicine. Baker’s academic achievements have been recognized with her being named a CIS Academic All-Canadian for the 2007-08 school year as well as for 2008-09. In addition she was named to the Dean’s Honour Roll last year.
Finding a balance between soccer and school has not always been easy, confides Baker, but she has learned that she does better in school if she does not procrastinate, and that the importance of a social life cannot be under-estimated. “Having a social life is super important — sometimes you just need a change of environment and pace, because it is so easy to get caught up with the stresses of university and constantly being away with soccer and track.” Yes, Baker is also a member of the U of M track team. She trains for middle distance with Donna Kaye and for the long jump with Dallas Mooney.
Baker also plays soccer for the South End United women’s premier team. When she is not busy with track, soccer and school, Baker enjoys traveling, reading, watching movies, dancing and spending time at the cabin.