LOS ALAMITOS, Calif, July 5 — U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Guy Baker is going to be spending some time working on his Mandarin over the next few years. Today (July 5), USA Water Polo announced that Baker will be the at the helm of the women’s program through the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, finalizing talks that have been going on for months.
“We wanted to get this taken care of before the Olympics,” said USA Water Polo President Richard Foster. “We wanted to send a message to the world that we have confidence in Guy and what he’s doing. And we didn’t want him to be successful at these Olympics only to have some other country buy him away from us.”
Baker is excited at the prospect of returning for another Olympic Games and is eager to get to work on what’s ahead. “My staff and I feel that there are a lot of things left to accomplish,” said Baker. “For now, we are just focused on what we need to do in Athens. But we want to continue to grow and develop the sport and make it as much of
a national sport as we possibly can.”
Baker, quick to point out that all the success has been a team effort, will return to the pool deck with Assistant Coach Kyle Kopp. Joining his coaching staff will be current Team USA center Heather Moody (Green River, WY/San Diego State/New York AC) and Michelle Pickering-Baker, the National Team Manager and Director of Women’s Programs, and Jennifer Ross the Manager of Women’s Programs will be back to handle the day-to-day operations of the U.S. women’s program from coast to cost.
“The whole team has had a part in what we’ve done here,” he said. “I haven’t done this by myself. The whole staff is great and they do so much to make things go.”
Baker and company will devote a good portion of their time after the Olympics with the continuing development of the youth and junior programs, as well as the P.A.C.E. (Programs for Athletes and Coaches Education) Program.
“These programs are incredibly important to the future of women’s water polo in the U.S.,” said Baker. “We have to do what we can at all levels to improve. We’re a pretty driven group.”
The goal: “To be the best program in the world.”
Baker guided the U.S. to its first ever World Championship gold medal finish in 2003. The first U.S. women’s water polo coach in Olympic history back in 2000, Baker has continued to establish a tradition of excellence with his program. Since he took over in 1998, when the U.S. was ranked No. 8 in the world, Baker has guided teams to Olympic silver (2000), World Cup silver (2002), World Championship gold (2003), and gold at the first-ever FINA Women’s World League Super Finals in June. Team USA is now the odds-on favorite for gold heading into Athens this summer.
Guy and his wife Michelle reside in Long Beach, Calif., with their two
daughters Christen and Samantha.