Wilmette, Sports

Athlete of the Week: 10 questions with Mike Baker, Loyola Academy football

Mike Baker is a senior kicker, punter and wide receiver for the Ramblers. He was recently named to the Class 8A All-State team by the Illinois High School Coaches Association.

1. Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?

I do. It’s a lot of little things. I wear the same undershirt — a cut-off shirt — then the same shirt over that. Same shorts, same everything. I listen to the same songs in the same order for the last 20 minutes, or at least this season I have. A lot of little things like that.

2. How is college recruiting process going?

It’s going pretty well. This summer I did a lot of visits and I’ve liked a lot of the schools, but with the transfer portal, it is hard to tell who (the schools) are going to get and when. So a lot of schools, I am waiting to see what they are going to do. I keep focusing on the season and hope things play out in a good way.

3. What is your dream job?

I would have to say I would like to be a boss of something and would like to be very hands on, like an engineer. I like solving things and coming up with solutions to problems, and I like building. I don’t have anything in mind, but I do a lot of work now like lawn mowing, moving and wood working. I’m into that kind of stuff. I like grinding and getting stuff done.

4. When did you know you were a good kicker?

I would say my dad (Dan) is a kicker, he kicked at (the University of Missouri) and I have two brothers, one who is a year older (Jack) and one who is five years older (Danny Jr.), who is a senior Dayton and plays football there. H kicked until his senior year in high school. He was really good, but he loved hitting and playing safety. He played safety at Lake Forest College and transferred to Dayton and picked up kicking again. Moral of the story, I kicked all my life and have grown up around it. Every grade school team that has a kicker thinks that kid is good because they don’t see kickers. So naturally I thought I was a good kicker, but when I went and competed nationally, especially this summer, I realized how good I was. It was eye opening. That was a pretty cool feeling.

5. Who is your favorite athlete?

I have so many. I’m going to go with Austin Ekeler (NFL — Los Angeles Chargers). He’s like 5-9 and one of the best running backs in the league. I think that’s so sweet. I could also say Cody Schrader from Mizzou. Both are just short guys that are just like workhorses, who work really hard and are good people off the field. It’s an underdog thing.

6. What is your favorite sports moment so far?

I would say my (65-yard receiving) touchdown against Mount Carmel. I would say that. That was a dream come true.

7. If you had to listen to one song the rest of your life, what would it be?

“May We All” by Florida Georgia line. I don’t know. I just love it. That or “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue” (Toby Keith). They just make me feel really good, really excited, a lot of different emotions.

8. If you’re in Walgreens with a couple bucks, what are you buying?

Gallon of water and Starburst Minis all pink.

9. What is something people don’t know about you?

A lot of people don’t know that I play receiver as well. Maybe that I play hockey. Or that I’m very good at ping-pong and chess. I love chess. I’m pretty good (at ping-pong) I played against some guys on ping-pong team and I beat them. We play ping-pong at team dinners and I play against like 10 guys and win every time.

10. What makes Loyola Academy football so special and dominant?

The coaches. 100 percent. The fact we’ve been going after this since June 10. We’ve been five hours a day, six hours a day since June 10 and these guys are working full-time jobs. We got out at 7:15 p.m. tonight and that’s just something you don’t get anywhere else. Every coach across the board is watching tow hours of film every night to prepare for one team. It’s truly mind boggling to me. My wide receivers coach (Patrick Naughton) watches 24 hours of film a week. It’s unreal. So it’s 100 percent coaches who make it. And they are great people and really do care about making us good young men and people. And also the scout teams; that’s another one. They are the backbone of Loyola football. Without them, we don’t get a good look.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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