Athlete feature: Melody Baker, a ‘superhero’

Busy is an understatement when describing the life of Melody Baker, a senior thrower on Washburn’s track and field team. Head coach Cameron Babb recommended Baker for athlete feature to shine light on her hard work and dedication to her studies, as well as her athletic talent.

When we interact with student athletes, we assume that all of their time is dedicated to their sport, whether that means workouts, competitions, practice or team bonding. Baker expresses that the ‘athlete’ in ‘student athlete’ is just one piece of a large puzzle.

Baker grew up in Olathe, Kansas. She attended Olathe Northwest High School, where she took courses through Johnson County Community College to earn about 30 dual credit hours. When she graduated from high school, she came straight to Washburn on both athletic and academic scholarships.

Working toward her master’s in criminology, Baker found herself taking upwards of 27 credit hours per semester to earn both her Bachelor’s in forensic investigations and her Associate’s in psychology last May at 20 years old. This course load was in addition to being a student athlete and a part-time employee at Washburn. Despite the loaded schedule, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA through it all.

After getting a taste for competition at a young age, Baker knew that pursuing her passion for sports was within her reach when she found out about Washburn’s program. While completing her undergraduate degrees, she received both academic and athletic scholarships and continues to maintain an athletic scholarship while completing her master’s degree.

“I chose Washburn because of the chance to be a part of a new program and help rebuild it,” Baker said. 

After two years, she has nothing but positive things to say about Washburn and the track & field program. 

“The best part about being a student athlete [at Washburn] is the people you’re able to surround yourself with. Even if you come here not knowing a single person, you at least know you have your teammates and other athletes on campus who can relate to everything you’re going through,” Baker said. 

A former decorated Girl Scout, Baker is no stranger to structure and leadership. She credits her time in the scouts for teaching her how to manage her time and be able to handle even the toughest moments that life provides.

Having a strong work ethic is not something that Baker takes lightly. She is hoping that all of her hard work will lead her to her dream job as a federal agent for the FBI.

“I would like to deal with the psychopaths, the real crazies and see what makes them click. If I can’t work with them, I at least want to work on the federal level on the more serious cases,” Baker said.

She hopes to land an internship with the ATF (alcohol, tobacco and firearms division) next summer after she turns 21. This will help get her foot in the door for criminal justice and kickstart her career as soon as possible. She hopes that it can also act as a stepping stone to reach her ultimate goal of being in the FBI. 

Baker said her family has been supportive for the past few years. Her brother, Adam, is a senior in high school who plans on going to K-State after graduating. Her father, Dale Baker, is a retired educator and her mother, Joyce Schmitz, is a professor and exercise physiologist at a hospital. She said her sports career was influenced by them.

Although demanding workouts require a healthy diet, Baker claims that her eating habits aren’t as consistently clean as they should be. 

“I know coach is probably going to read this, but I have to admit that when I’m out of season, all of the unhealthy snacks are my favorite. I eat Dairy Queen almost everyday during the summer with no shame. But during season I do a pretty good job at eating healthy snacks like strawberries and peaches,” Baker said. 

She reluctantly revealed that in her free time away from the weight room and other rigorous training, she and her friends spend too much money eating out at restaurants.

On top of all this, Baker found herself working as a part-time server at HuHot. She said she switched gears from working as a student ambassador at Washburn because of her new living location away from campus and her change of availability. She recently found a new job at the new Iron Rail, which will work better with her schedule. She plans to rearrange employment later when the establishment opens later in the year.

As if her accomplishments aren’t enough to showcase her character, Baker’s teammate, junior runner Cedrick Henderson-Smith also describes her as an ‘unreal’ friend to have. 

“She’s the definition of a superwoman. She already has her bachelors and is now in the masters program, has two jobs and still does track as well. She’s such a hard worker, keeps a smile on her face and never gives up. You couldn’t ask for a better friend, teammate and role model to the community,” said Henderson-Smith.

Baker is undoubtedly impressive with her drive and determination to accomplish anything she dreams for herself. She encases everything that this series is aimed to display and she truly deserves recognition for all of her hard work.

If you happen to attend a track & field meet this year, make sure to show support for Baker as she aims to make Nationals in discus.