Baker, who recently completed an outstanding high school career at Knoxville Catholic, was named the Gatorade Tennessee Boys Soccer Player of the Year. The Gatorade Company teamed with ESPNHS to promote the award.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Baker as Tennessee’s best high school boys soccer player.
The 5-foot-8, 135-pound midfielder scored 29 goals and dished off 16 assists this past season, leading the Irish (15-2-3) to the District 4-AAA semifinals. A first team all-state selection by both the Tennessee High School Soccer Coaches Association and Tennessee Sports Writers Association, Baker concluded his prep career with 65 goals and 49 assists.
At the same time Furey’s new signee has maintained a 3.78 GPA in the classroom, he has also volunteered locally as a youth soccer coach and as part of multiple community service initiatives in association with his high school.
Baker drew praise from Seth Harbin, coach of Catholic rival Webb School of Knoxville. “Tim was the fastest player on the ball that we played this year. His touch on the ball was better than anyone we saw. To quote some of my players, ‘He’s incredible.’ My guys didn’t give that kind of praise to any other player this season.”
Before leaving for Norway and academy play this summer, Ooltewah High School defender Croxall signed to continue his soccer career at Lee University. Croxall is a dual citizen of the United States and Norway.
He was the first home-school student to play a TSSAA sport for a Hamilton County system school, and he was an all-district and all-region contributor to the top-ranked Owls’ 18-3 season. All three losses were by a 1-0 score, including to Murfreesboro Riverdale in a Class AAA sectional.
“He really came in and solidified our backs,” Ooltewah coach Rick Adolph said. “He’s a really smart defender — probably our best one-on-one defender — and he reads the game very well and communicates very well. He’s patient, he’s very quick and he’s a great kid who works hard every day. He’ll do well at Lee.”
“Hayden is a quality young man who brings many of the intangibles to any team,” Lee coach Furey said. “He is an outstanding student and a hard worker. His integrity, character and work ethic, along with his deep-rooted faith, will make him an inspiration on the team and around the campus.”