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Being a three-sport high school athlete isn’t easy. It requires plenty of talent as well as an ability to devote large amounts of time to each of these activities.There are some athletes like LaRue County’s Connor Baker who have taken it a step further.This spring, the senior has taken the three-sport athlete commitment and condensed it into a single season, spending his final months as a Hawk as a member of the school’s baseball, track and field and bass fishing teams.Participating in three different spring sports is something new for Baker, but it certainly has been better than being denied a spring sports season as a junior.“It was good to be back. Last year, I had big hopes for baseball … and track especially,” Baker said. “It kind of sucked seeing it go out the window, but that gave me some time to work on some things and improve my craft. I’m just glad to be back.”These three sports are part of what has been a four-sport senior year for Baker, who also has played football for the Hawks. He plans to continue playing football this fall at Centre College.“You’ve got to take care of your body. I take a lot of time taking care of my body, because if I can’t take care of my body I’m not gonna be able to play any of these sports, with injuries and stuff like that,” Baker said of what it takes to commit to so many sports. “That, time management, knowing when to work, when to rest, when to eat, everything’s on a schedule. I’d say those are my biggest things, also just going out and having fun. At the end of the end of the day, you’re playing high school sports. It’s supposed to be fun.”The springtime wasn’t always this jam-packed for Baker. Until his sophomore year, his primary spring sport had been bass fishing, along with spring football.It was then that track and field entered the mix.“My coach came out here and said ‘I bet you a milkshake that you can’t jump over these hurtles.’ I said ‘Alright bet, yeah I can jump over these hurtles,’” Baker said. “He’s got me jumping over these hurtles and I’m at a track meet the next day.”Baker has gone on to have a very successful career in the long jump, triple jump and high jump, leaving with the school record in all three events.Ahead of what would have been his junior season, Baker planned to join the baseball team. He previously stopped playing as an eighth grader in order to focus more on football, but LaRue County coach Kellen Lobb helped convince him to take it back up.The other convincing came courtesy of his current baseball teammates.“My buddies on the baseball team, they talked me into it, so now I’m doing all three,” Baker said. “I’m only gonna be in high school once, so I might as well play all the sports I can.”Due to the cancellation brought on by COVID last year, this has been Baker’s only spring season participating in all three sports at the same time. For a student-athlete who’s no stranger to hard work both on the field and in the classroom, it’s added new challenges and new opportunities to succeed.“It’s hard with school and finals wrapping up. Luckily, I took the classroom very seriously and got my grades first. Now, just every day I’ve either got a practice or a game or something going on. I’m doing something every day of the week Monday through Sunday,” Baker said. “The biggest thing for me is time management and communication. I can’t be at a track meet and a baseball game the same day, so I have to communicate with my coaches and luckily I have great coaches who are on the same page. They let me go do these things.”From Lobb’s perspective, Baker is everything a coach should want in an athlete.“When Connor comes, you know you’re gonna get everything he’s got,” Lobb said. “He has that killer mentality. He’s a competitor and I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a kid with that kind of drive in everything he does.”There are different aspects to each of these three teams that Baker enjoys the most. For baseball, it’s been getting to have one more season with the guys he grew up playing little league with. With track, Baker appreciates the combination it offers as a team sport with individual aspects that allow him to challenge himself at each meet. When it comes to bass fishing, Baker enjoys just getting to head to the lake on Saturdays and toss a line in the water.While these are three very different sports, Baker has seen first-hand how elements of each one can help him in the others.“What got me for track was just being in physical shape. That’s helped me for baseball and to be faster and stronger on the field than the competition. Baseball, the biggest thing I had to learn was being able to keep my composure and my head under control,” he said. “That’s helped me on the baseball field and its transferred over to the track because I have to keep myself composed if I scratch a jump or something like that or if I miss a mark or something like that. … Bass fishing, you just have to always be on the fly. You go practice, the next day it changes. You’ve gotta be able to make changes on the spot and that’s helped me in all the sports, being able to adapt and overcome adversity.”While at times it hasn’t been the easiest spring sports season of his high school athletic career due to the amount of responsibilities and commitments, Baker wouldn’t change a thing about it. At the end of the day, it’s given him additional ways to show what being a Hawk is all about.“This community shaped who I am today. I give everything back to LaRue County. I’m just blessed to be able to go out here and do the best that I can and hopefully represent the community in terms that makes them proud,” Baker said. “I know they’ve had my back growing up, coming out watching me in little league football, little league baseball and stuff like that. I just want to go out and represent where I’m from, little old LaRue County.”For now, Baker’s focus at Centre is solely on football.There’s been some interest between the school’s track and field program and himself about getting involved with that as well, but Baker’s plan is to wait and see how football goes first.In the meantime, he’s got some spring high school seasons to finish up.Earlier this month at the KHSAA state bass fishing tournament, he and teammate Evan Morris came in 30th out of 90 boats.“Not what we wanted, but we still have another state championship and two nationals to go to,” Baker said. “Hopefully, we’ll place a little better at those.”On the track, Baker has the KHSAA Class AA Region 2 meet coming up Tuesday. The meet will be held at Warren East High School in Bowling Green. After that is the KHSAA Class AA State Track Meet, which is scheduled for June 11 in Lexington.“I’m one of the favorites going into (Region) and I’d like to win all three of my events there,” Baker said. “I would like to have at least one state championship, hopefully top three in the other ones, or hopefully win all three. Hopefully I’m jumping good that day and win all three.”On the baseball field, the Hawks open the 18th District Tournament at Green County with a 6: 30 p.m. game Monday against Hart County.“We want to go out and win a district championship,” Baker said. “We’re in a little struggle right now, but I believe in my team. We’ll work on it and I think we’ll be fine.”Whatever happens over the next few weeks, Baker believes being able to balance so many obligations and still find the success he’s seen will help him at the next level.“College, it’s a different breed. Classes are harder, sports are harder. It’s a full job,” he said. “I think being able to adapt and get my stuff figured out in high school early is only gonna help prepare me for college when I get up there.”
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