Tuesday, 2 April 2013

GB Student Lions Interviews: QB Coach Ryan Baker

The first in a series of interviews from the GB Student Lions team ahead of their game in Uppsala vs Sweden.

Name: Ryan Baker
University: University of Birmingham
GB Coaching Position: Quarterbacks

Coach Baker speaks to GB WR Tom Singleton Wells c/o Bec Edwards
DC:First off, congratulations on being one of the coaches for the Great Britain Students Men’s Program. How has the whole process of being involved in the student program been, from applying, to trial, to now?

RB: Thank you, it's a real honour to be a part of this program. The whole process was a little bit of a whirlwind. I had my interview with Wayne and Russ, and within a couple of days, I had been offered the role. Once that was done we had multiple conference calls as a staff to get things ready. This program had a real focus on aligning with the GB adult program.

I am lucky enough to be a part of that staff too, so I got tasked to ensure some consistency within the two offenses. That has been an exciting challenge for me personally. Then working with the guys on the field has been the best bit, we have some great men and very talented players.

DC: With the relatively short period of time between trials and going to Sweden, with limited training which has been affected by the weather, how have preparations gone going into Saturday’s game?

RB: Speaking from an offensive point of view, we have thrown a lot at the players. But all credit to everyone involved. The staff has done a great job in delivering the content and the players have been amazing in working hard to retain it. Building an offense will always be tougher, but we seem to have started to gel pretty well so i'm excited for the future.

DC: Has it been difficult juggling different playbooks being in BUAFL season, and how has the install gone on the Great Britain Program?

RB: That has been my single biggest issue to be honest. In a short space of time I was juggling the GB Student playbook, the GB adult playbook and its variances, the Birmingham Lions playbook and the IFAF World Team Playbook.

 It's simply been a case of refreshing before each event. I'd be lying if I said it was easy. Luckily though, across all programs I have been working with great Staffs and the systems have been somewhat similar in style. Coaching the QBs is a lot tougher as they need to know every little detail, but the group I have are great and they do a fantastic job in building it up as we go.

DC: How has the Great Britain Program measured up to your expectations when you took the position on the staff?

RB: I've spent most of my career with HC Wayne Hill, so I know how he works and the standard in which he wants things done. That really helped me in understanding my role and what would be expected of me. I'd say it's been exactly as I expected it to be. We give him plenty of stick but he, along with GM Caro Freeman, do a great job and keeps most of the non coaching issues away from us, letting us focus purely on our jobs.

DC: There are lots of high quality athletes on the squad has anyone really stood out in your opinion?

RB: There have been a number of guys. Tris Varney and Joe Thompson had done a great job of leading from the front in practices. Joe has really embraced the leadership role and has run with it. In the WR corps, they are all stand outs. I've got to spend some time with guys like Tom Singleton-Wells now too. I knew he was a good wide out, but his thirst for knowledge is great. He's always asking questions and wanting to get better, can't help but love coaching guys like that.

Coach Baker working out the QB's c/o/ Bec Edwards
DC: As, well as quality athletes Coach Hill has put together a top notch staff. What has it been like working with these coaches?

RB: I'm in the lucky position that I've worked with a lot of the staff previously. Both Wayne and Tony have been my mentors since I began coaching, so continuing that at such a high level has been great for me personally. Jay and myself have spent years together and got into coaching at the same time, we now constantly bounce ideas off each other.

The entire staff is great though, they are a really committed group and their knowledge is unreal at times. We have a lot of fun too and I think that feeds down to the guys.

DC: What are your expectations of the game this weekend vs Sweden?

RB: If we go out there and execute, playing to our ability and tempo, I think we can do some real damage. I'm not going their to make up numbers and i'm sure the guys will be hungry for a victory. Regardless though, the future is very bright for a lot of our players.

DC: Finally, with the World Student Championships being played in Sweden in 2014, what are you thoughts and what would you say to any university player wanting to be on that squad next year?

RB: If GB gets entered into the world games, it will be a huge boost for our sport. If a player really wants to make an impact on this level, they really need to focus on the basics and ensure they do the little things right. Eating right and working out off the field, are really where a lot of European nations are beating us right now in my opinion.

The other thing i'd encourage, especially for the QB's is to reach out. I'll happily give my time and help to anyone wanting to improve.

DC: Thanks for taking the time out and good luck on Saturday.

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