Interview: Colin Baker Chooses Harvard

What made you decide to commit to Harvard?
Academics have always been a huge priority for me. I feel like Harvard offers me the ability to compete at a high level both in my academics and athletics.

How did you make the final decision and who was involved?
It was not easy to make the final decision. I was looking at several schools with very high level academics and athletics. Ultimately, I felt like Coach Gibby would be the best fit for me. He has had plenty of past success working with 5K and 10K guys so I think I will be able to fit that mold well. I discussed the decision with Coach Johnson and my family.

What did you experience on each visit?
On all four of the visits I took the coaches and guys on the team were very welcoming. I really felt like I could get along with all of them. That definitely made the decision tougher for me.

What were your top 5 choices?
Harvard, Princeton, Duke, Yale, and Dartmouth.

Who was involved in the process for you?
Coach Brian Johnson and my family really helped guide me throughout the process.

How did you get involved in the sport and why?
Like many distance runners, I originally started out playing soccer. I was a decent soccer player, but I knew I was not going to be elite or compete at the collegiate level. I was never the most athletic guy on the team, however, I always seemed to excel at the conditioning part of training. As such, my mother convinced me to join the local recreational track team, Mount Pleasant Track Club. In my first year of running, I was able to garner some success, and I had a lot of fun. This made me decide to quit soccer and put my focus into distance running.

What has been your biggest challenge?
During my freshman and sophomore years of high school I was not competing at a high level like I wanted to; I felt so incredibly frustrated. I was working hard in practice and doing the small things, but I just was not able to put up any good results. Over the winter of my sophomore year, I made some tweaks to my training and also hit a growth spurt. That following track track season, I was finally able to start accomplishing my goals.

What did you learn from that experience?
Over those couple years, I developed a really strong work ethic. I trained for two years and never thought about giving up despite constantly failing to achieve my goals. It was a really rough time. Although, I think even though physically my body was not improving, I was laying the mental foundation that would allow me success in my junior and senior years.

How is training this fall?
Training this fall has been going very well. I have been able to handle an increase in volume and intensity. The times I have been running in workouts have been a real confidence boost to me going into races.

Are you scheduled for any indoor meets?
As of right now, no. I will be competing at the Dash for Doobie 3200m again which I believe technically counts as an indoor meet. I will probably run a couple other indoor meets during the winter and then hopefully compete at New Balance Nationals Indoor again. My coach and I will put more thought into a schedule after my cross country season is over.

How do you look at your time at Academic Magnet?
During my time at Academic Magnet I was pushed and stretched to be the best I can in my academics. I am satisfied thus far with what I have accomplished, although I need to stay focused and end my senior year strong.

What will you miss the most?
I don't think I will necessarily miss anything other than being coached by Coach Johnson. I am ready for the next chapter of my life, and I know I won't be looking back much.

How do you look at the history and being part of Academic Magnet?
It was an honor to attend Academic Magnet. Many great students have graduated from here. From an athletics perspective, it was fun being a part of a strong 2A and now 3A cross country team.

What athletic goals do you have for college and the remaining of high school sports?
I currently have not set any objective goals for college, I am sure that is something I will do with Coach Gibby once I am finished with my high school track season. More broadly, I suppose that I want to do everything I can in training to make the most out of my talent in college. In terms of high school, my two main goals are to qualify and get all-american at footlocker nationals as well as break the state record of 8:56 in the 3200m. Both of those goals are going to be extremely difficult for me to attain, but I have never been afraid to set high goals for myself. 

Do you know what event you will focus on in College?
I assume that I will be focusing on the 5K and 10K in college as I have good aerobic strength. Ultimately, I will focus on whatever events Coach Gibby thinks will be best for me and the team.

What would you say is the biggest memory you have?
The joy of getting all-american at New Balance national outdoors in the 5000m really sticks out in my mind. I came close to getting all-american at new balance indoors finishing 8th. It felt great to come back and get the job done after what was a really long season.

What do you hope to study and otherwise achieve in college?
I plan on studying some form of engineering. More than anything, I really want to make the most out of my four years at Harvard and further develop my skills so that I can be successful in any of my future endeavors.  

How does it feel to have the decision made prior to the outdoor season?
It feels like a huge weight has been lifted of my shoulders. I am glad I can really focus on finishing my high school career on a high note rather than stressing about where I will be spending the next four years.

How did the Harvard coaches react when informed?
Coach Gibby was happy when I called and informed him that I would like to commit to Harvard. Although, I still had to wait a couple weeks to be cleared by admissions before I would be officially accepted into the college. Once I found out that admissions had accepted me, Coach Gibby and I were both able to be excited.