Laura Baker left her native Kent, England more than a decade ago to pursue a collegiate field hockey playing career at VCU. She probably never dreamed one day she'd lead the program. Baker, who has been affiliated with the VCU Field Hockey program for nine of the past 11 years, was named the eighth head coach in program history by Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin on June 27, 2013.
"Laura's passion for VCU as an alumna and her knowledge of the game were big factors in the decision," McLaughlin said. "Laura is a tireless recruiter and a talented teacher of the game."
In her first season at the reigns in 2013, Baker directed the Rams to a 10-10 mark and a berth in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament semifinals. In three seasons at the helm, Baker has led VCU to a 21-35 record, and under her watch, the Rams have received six All-Atlantic 10 citations. In addition, one of Baker's first recruits, Krystal Mayers, played for Barbados at the 2016 Pan Am Games in Tacarigua, Trinidad & Tobago.
Baker's influence extends to the classroom, where the VCU Field Hockey program has consistently shined. The field hockey program posted the highest combined grade point average among VCU Athletic teams during the 2015-16 academic year. They also won VCU's 2016 Black and Gold Challenge Cup, a yearly competition between teams to encourage and reward involvement in all areas of the student-athlete experience, especially community engagement and career development.
Baker was also a member of VCU's staff during a pair of recent 13-win campaigns (2010, as assistant coach, and 2012, as associate head coach), the second-most victories in school single-season history. As assistant coach from 2009-10 and associate head coach in 2012, Baker helped the Black & Gold to a combined 34-22 mark, including a pair of conference tournament berths. Her work as an assistant helped engineer an eight-win turnaround over two seasons. The Rams' 13-7 record in 2010 was the school's best since the 1992 campaign.
"I couldn't be more about the opportunity to lead the VCU Field Hockey program. Having played at VCU, I have a lot of passion for this school and know there is a tremendous opportunity to build on the recent successes of the program," Baker said.
In addition to her time with the Rams, Baker also spent the 2011 season as an assistant at La Salle University, where she helped guide the Explorers to the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. As the goalkeeper coach for La Salle, she oversaw the success of Lisa Shafer, who ranked among the nation's best in goals-against-average and was named First-Team All-Region by the NFHCA.
As a player, Baker was a four-year starter for the Black & Gold from 2005-2008. She ranks in the top-10 in program history in every goalie statistical category.