Written by Veronica Noronha
“The greatest coaching moments have nothing to do with winning…,” says Sean Baker, Head Coach Markham Aquatics Club (MAC).
As we celebrate Coaches Week 2020, the Markham Pan Am Centre (MPAC) is shining a light on Sean Baker who recently took on the role of head coach for MAC. For the last 30 years, Baker has been coaching athletes across the country, many of whom have gone on to compete on the international stage. Good reasons for MAC to be thrilled to have Baker join their team. Patrizia Scozzese, the club’s President says, “MAC is very excited to welcome Baker’s passion, integrity-based philosophy and commitment to excellence as MAC boldly endeavours to become the premier competitive swim club in Canada”.
The club trains out of the MPAC, a premier sport complex with an Olympic-sized swimming pool (10 lane, 50 metres), ideal for training high-performance athletes. In fact, Baker says the facility was one of the driving forces behind his decision to join MAC. It is more than just the size of the pool that attracted Baker to the City of Markham. He immediately noticed the professionalism of the Sport Development team, who manage MPAC and says, “there is a recognizable focus on high-performance”. Throughout his multi-decade career, Baker has trained athletes in facilities of all sizes and believes that state-of-the-art facilities such as MPAC offer athletes every opportunity to grow.
Baker has seen a lot throughout his multi-decade career and the pandemic of 2020 is certainly going down in history as a time of challenge! But even a pandemic did not stop coach Baker from finding ways for his athletes to continue to grow and develop. He and his coaching team, took a creative approach to keeping their athletes together without actually being together, with virtual workout meetings and encouraging athletes to train outdoors – hiking, running, and climbing. While these activities were great and helped to keep athletes conditioned, they are thrilled to be back together on the pool deck. In July, the Markham Pan Am Centre opened its doors exclusively to high-performance clubs allowing select MAC athletes to kick-start their training in a safe and controlled environment.
While a lot has changed over the years, Baker says there have been a few constants such as the qualities and traits of high-performance athletes, including:
- Attitude – it is more than just showing up on deck and chasing the best swim time. It goes beyond their performance in the pool and includes how you interact with your coach and teammates.
- Self-discovery and truly believing in oneself is something every athlete must work on. A good coach commits to helping athletes get to a place where they are comfortable and confident in their abilities.
- Work ethic is a critical component of success. Athletes and coaches must work together consistently. It is all about the process, including failure which is the gateway to winning.
Baker’s track record of coaching roughly 2000 athletes – with over 100 eventually receiving University scholarships, certainly makes him an expert in his field. He humbly shares that the most remarkable example of his success is when he heard that one of his athletes, Rachelle Johnsen, went on to become one of the first female firefighters in Saskatchewan. She attributes her success to what she learned during her time being coached by Baker.
Coach Baker, from all of us at the MPAC and on behalf of your athletes at MAC, we salute you with a giant sized #ThanksCoach on Coaches Week 2020!