Monday, November 29, 2010


Royalton-Hartland's beloved Don Baker was in the spotlight in the Niagara Sunday section of the Buffalo News.

The article noted how fiery of a competitor he is and how he's had to slow down after putting a scare into himself, his family and our community....

Baker....felt pain in his chest that awakened him from his sleep about 3:30 a. m. Aug. 16 — hours before the Rams’ first football practice of the season.

He figured he just had a bad case of indigestion. At least he did, until later that morning.

The pain persisted as he ran his usual errands before going to work. At that moment, he called the audible that perhaps saved his life.

Instead of heading to summer school, the teacher assistant went to nearby Medina Memorial Hospital, where the problem was determined not to be indigestion. A blockage in his arteries was causing the discomfort— a warning sign of an imminent heart attack.

“I just knew something wasn’t right,” Baker said. “Once I got into the hospital, everything happened so fast. I really didn’t have time to think of anything else.”

Had he attempted to battle through the pain, the energetic coach in all likelihood wouldn’t have been running a recent girls’ basketball practice at the high school—putting an end to a 12-hour workday.

“Maybe not that day but maybe within 48 hours it would’ve been [really bad],” Baker said. “It’s like one of these things, you can’t take life for granted. You never know when something is going to happen. It definitely came as a huge surprise.”

The article made note of his comeback...

While doctors initially said he likely wouldn’t be able to return to work until the end of October, he proved to be a quick healer, leading to them giving approval for him to return to work just 42 days after his bypass. Baker guided the Rams to a 2-4 finish down the stretch after missing the team’s first three losses.

“I just thought the kids needed me to come back,” he said. “I just felt I needed to come back to see if I could do it physically. It was good therapy for me to be around everybody. . . . I had great support from all the teachers, administrators and the community. Everyone was great and bent over backwards for me.”

Check out the entire article online (it's a good read) at: