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Natalie Baker signs with Texas Tech Red

Natalie Baker signs with Texas Tech Red
La Vernia senior Natalie Baker signs her letter of intent May 24 to attend school and run track at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. She is joined by (from left) Coach Richard Hinojosa; Dr. Tom Harvey; her mother, Cheryl; her father, Jody; and Principal Cheryl Barron.

LA VERNIA After a record-setting career at La Vernia High School, senior track standout Natalie Baker will trade in her blue and white Lady Bear uniform for the black and red colors of Texas Tech University. On May 24, Baker officially signed her letter of intent to join the Red Raider track and field team.

There were a number of schools courting Baker to compete in track and volleyball. Iowa State and Texas State were among the frontrunners, but Baker eventually chose Tech. Her reasons were simple, but made total sense to her and her family.

“(Tech) had the hometown feeling that I am used to in La Vernia,” Baker said. “Everyone was so nice the people, the coaches. It felt like a second home. It was amazing up there. I absolutely love it.”

During her time in Lubbock, Baker plans to major in physical therapy. It is her intent to earn a bachelor’s degree, and then to stay in Lubbock and earn her master’s, as well. From there, she plans to spend her time helping athletes recover from injuries.

“I want to do something that will keep me active,” she said. “I’ve been involved in sports my whole life. I broke my ankle back in junior high, and had to go to therapy to recover. I like the idea that I can help other athletes get through their injuries, too.”

Baker said her favorite subject is English, and describes herself as a “huge English nerd.” When she isn’t busy working out, Baker said she spends a lot of time reading books, and loves the classics.

She is looking forward to running track, and to traveling with the team to see new places. She sees the move to Lubbock as the next chapter of her life, and is “ready to embrace it.”

“I feel like I am ready for this new aspect of my life,” Baker said. “I am going to miss my friends and memories, though. I will miss my mom and dad always being in the other room, or just a few minutes away. It’s going to be hard not having them around me. It’s going to be hard, but I can’t wait for it.”

Baker certainly had a noteworthy career at La Vernia. She was a standout in track, volleyball, and basketball, but skipped her senior season of basketball to concentrate on other things. Her fondest memories came in 2011. She will always remember the Lady Bear volleyball team’s regional win over Wimberley. Baker said they were out for “revenge,” and that she couldn’t have picked a better team to earn her final win against.

Even more memorable, though, was Baker’s 2011 state championship in the 300-meter hurdles.

“My best memory has to be last year at the state meet,” she said. “I crossed that finish line and looked around. I couldn’t believe I had just won state. I dropped down to my knees. I was just so happy.

“It had been my goal since the sixth grade,” she added. “It made my life complete. I was the happiest person on earth.”

In addition to Baker and her parents, there were a lot of happy folks in La Vernia when she captured the gold. Among them was Lady Bear Head Coach Richard Hinojosa. He was with Baker as she continued to reach goal after goal, and her absence will certainly be felt.

“Natalie has done a fine job for us as a Lady Bear, and I know she’ll be an instant contributor as a Red Raider,” Hinojosa said. “We wish her the very best.”

Her time in high school has just about come to an end, but Baker isn’t sad. She is all smiles, and is looking forward to her future.

“I couldn’t be happier right now,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.”

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