By Meaghan Houston
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Ronnie Baker’s first love was basketball, but choosing to run track in college changed not only his life but also NCAA history.
Baker’s long list of accomplishments includes being a seven-time All-America honoree and the 2015 NCAA 60-meter dash champion, but his success has not affected his humble and grounded disposition.
The first word TCU track and field coach Darryl Anderson used to describe Ronnie Baker was consistent, followed by praises about his work ethic, poised demeanor, and unique leadership role. He also emphasized that winning at the NCAA championships did not change Baker as a person or athlete, attesting to his character and humility.
“Ronnie is still the same great guy to be around, which isn’t always the case after becoming an NCAA champion,” Anderson said. “He’s looking at the big picture and seeing where he can go from here – this isn’t the end goal, just another point that he can elevate from.”
Baker’s hard work and constant desire for improvement doesn’t go unnoticed by his teammates and coaches. Coach Anderson says that Baker has never had a horrible day of training in the three years he has been running at TCU.
Baker says that competing against his teammates in practice every day fosters his success and growth as a runner.
“We have a great group of guys,” Baker said. “I think one of the main things is that we have really good team chemistry. We accomplish everything together and push each other every day when we train.
“Two years ago, Charles Silmon was here and won the 100-meter dash, and I learned a lot from getting the opportunity to train with him. That’s really elevated not only me but also my teammates.”
This team chemistry did not happen by accident – Coach Anderson believes that every team needs two types of leaders, and Ronnie exemplifies one of them.
“[He has] a quiet, calm demeanor of confidence – he leads by action, not by words,” Anderson added. “You always need a vocal leader, but you also need someone who leads by example.”
In speaking with Baker, his subdued, modest personality is noticeable, but his confidence and self-assurance quietly shine through. This delicate balance is the mark of a truly humble champion, which is the perfect description of Baker.
His competitive spirit and hard work make Baker stand out on the track, but he attributes all of his success and accomplishments to his two biggest influences, God and his mom.
“I have a strong faith in God and I really believe that He’s the One who gives me the strength to do everything I do,” Baker said. “My mom is also a huge factor in my life. She got to come and watch the NCAA Championships, which was really nice because being from Kentucky, she doesn’t really get to come out as much. She’s everything to me. I wouldn’t be here without her.”
Having already earned many accolades during his TCU career, Baker still finds each achievement just as rewarding.
“It’s really special for me because it was my first time going to the NCAA championships for an individual event,” Baker said. “Being able to compete against some of the top athletes in the country is great, and to win it, is beyond anything I could have ever imagined going into the race.”
Ironically, before the 60-meter dash championship, Baker said that he felt sluggish but was motivated by the thought that all of the top athletes still have to get on the line on their bad days.
This mental toughness is an example of the impact that track has had on Baker’s life.
“Track has been a challenge,” Baker said. “It makes you tougher as a person, mentally and physically, and strengthens your mentality. On and off the track, there’s never a challenge that’s too big. [Track] has made me a stronger person, and it continues to make me stronger every single day.”
Looking forward, beyond his time at TCU, Baker hopes to run at the professional level before using his Kinesiology major to go into athletic training. Baker’s love for sports drove him chose kinesiology and a career path within athletics.
Two weeks after his NCAA championship run, Baker ran the fourth-fastest 100 meter time in TCU history, and with over a year left in his career, he will undoubtedly put his name in the record books a few more times.Ronnie Baker embodies a rare combination of talent and humility that will undoubtedly fuel his success in anything he pursues after graduating next year.