The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 13, 2013

Harold Raker's high school track column: Coach enjoying new digs


Daily Item

---- — Assistant coaches, especially those working with a successful head coach, may be as well known to most as the sixth man on Michigan's Fab Five.

But those close to the program, and the athletes themselves, know who they are and their value to the team.

One of those coaches for the previous 17 springs was Lewisburg girls assistant Aimee Baylor.

I say "was" because Baylor, who was coach Jonathan Clark's right-hand woman through the program's near 17-year unbeaten dual meet streak, has moved on, taking a position on coach Kevin Donner's staff at nearby Bucknell University.

She took that step despite her love for Lewisburg, where she was a standout in the early 1990s, and where her daughter, Blake, is a sophomore member of the team.

Aimee knew the decision was the right one, but she conceded that Blake wasn't sure about it — at first.

"But I knew she would be in the best hands," Aimee said. "She is very comfortable with Clark and (assistant coach Joe) Faust. They've known her since she was born. They have watched her grow up from running around the track at practice since she was 3 until wearing a Lewisburg uniform."

She added that new Green Dragons assistant Mike Espinosa is "a fantastic young coach and the girls love him."

Now, Aimee enjoys her new situation where she is not "coach" to the girls, but just "Blake's mom."

The former Lewisburg High and Bloomsburg University standout, who held Bloom's 1,500-meter record for 16 years, got nothing but encouragement from Clark, who was the first person she discussed the Bucknell opportunity with.

"He has been supportive of me, knowing this is my passion and continuing to learn and train at the next level. I felt it was the right time to take this opportunity and grow more as a coach myself," she said.

The seed for coach Baylor was sewn while she was in college, where she knew she wanted to coach or enter the health field. She majored in exercise science.

"An opportunity came available to work with the Bucknell team and it was a very tough decision," she said.

As a Green Dragon, when she was Aimee Gerlinski, she won the District 4 Class AA championship in the 400, taking eighth in the state meet. She also qualified for states in the 4x800 and 4x400 relays. She was the league champ in the 800.

Later, she also ran competitively in distance races.

She no longer does that, but she credits the training with teaching her a lot about training methods for women, the science behind it and the sport in general, she said.

Her coach was Susquehanna University head coach Marty Owens. She said she learned a lot from Owens and fellow coach Jack Daniels.

"Since then I've kind of been a sponge, trying to soak it all in and taking some USTAF classes," she said.

She also benefited from working with Clark. "When I got married and moved back to Lewisburg, I contacted Clark and he needed an assistant. He's been my biggest mentor and supporter, encouraging me to further my passion of coaching at the next level."

Baylor, Clark and Faust, the only coaches on the staff for years, worked well together.

"We very much tried to maximize the potential of every girl. It was very challenging taking 14-year-olds who had never experienced track and field," she said, adding that her sport differs from most in that there are no youth leagues for them to learn.

The staff prided itself in finding the right events for the girls to help them achieve success, she said.

"The teenage years can be rough and in the ups and downs of an individual sport, successes and failures can be very taxing. We are much more than coaches. A lot of the job is counselor and motivator, teaching kids to believe in themselves, to never give up, get back up after disappointments, give your best at all times and to have fun is what we tried to teach them, along with the athletic training." she said.

Baylor added, "I've developed some great friendships over 17 years and still keep in touch with many alumni. I've been to weddings and have seen babies."

She has enjoyed her brief time at Bucknell, coaching men and women, and said Donner has been quite supportive.

Today and Sunday, coach Baylor will be unable to watch her old team take part in the annual Susquehanna University Invitational, as she will be coaching in the prestigious Bison Outdoor Classic in Lewisburg.

But she is happy where she is at.

"I don't know what the next step will be but I know I'm staying put at Bucknell for a while. I love it."

n Sports editor Harold Raker covers high school track and field. Email comments to hraker@dailyitem.com.