Patrick Baker first came to the University of Maine at Presque Isle as a nontraditional student studying health and wellness with the goal of getting a degree in Athletic Training. Barbara Blackstone, dean, College of Professional Programs, remembers what it was like to have Pat in class. “It was fun to have a student who had some knowledge already in the field of fitness and health. Just his natural way of helping people,” she said. “He instantly turned into a mentor to younger students, to his own classmates. He just had a way about him from the very beginning that put people at ease and helped people feel comfortable.” In 2008, Pat graduated from UMPI with a degree in athletic training.
By 2011, Pat had returned to UMPI to fill the position of Assistant Athletic Trainer. He quickly moved up to Head Athletic Trainer when the previous head left. “We instantly moved him up because he was ready to do that position,” Barb said. “He was very skilled at being an athletic trainer and learned the ins and outs of all the administrative roles you have when you’re the head athletic trainer.”
It was during his time serving in this position that he met his dear friend Dan Kane, UMPI’s Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation as well as men’s basketball coach. Dan was visiting UMPI for an interview in April of 2017. “During my on-campus visit, I met one-on-one with Pat,” Dan said. “With just 15 minutes of talking to him, we hit it off right away. What stuck out to me was his knowledge of athletic training and his passion for helping the student athletes and teams achieve success.”
It wasn’t long after his start at UMPI that Dan started to see how devoted to his athletes Pat was. “Athletic training is a tough job with long hours. You have to work long weekends and some holidays,” he said. “And depending on the time of year it can be a seven-day-a-week job. Pat was there every time for every practice ready to go. In my 14 years of being involved in college athletics, Pat has been the best athletic trainer I have been around. His ability to connect with student athletes was one of the many things that made him perfect for his profession.”
Barb shared similar thoughts. “He was always very concerned about the students’ success,” she said. “And in the athletic training program, often times the most important person in the program is the head athletic trainer, because that’s the mentor of your students. That’s the person that’s going to engage them in the day-to-day duties of an athletic trainer, how to learn things and how to do things. So, he was there as a mentor, but he also taught.”
Outside of UMPI, Pat was both a friend to many and father to his beloved Zoey. “His little girl was the light of his life,” Barb said. “They had a very special relationship.” It wasn’t unusual to see Zoey bopping around the AT room, which some student athletes called “Pat’s Spa,” while her Dad worked away.
“It was so fun to see her come in to visit,” Barb said. Pat would occasionally bring her to sporting events, too, introducing his daughter proudly to everyone he knew or was just meeting.
His athletes adored Zoey and could tell how delighted he was to be her father. “He loved her very much and would do anything for her,” Dan said. “He set a great example for our student athletes and others on how to be a great parent.”
Pat will be remembered by his laidback, humorous and caring nature. He will especially be remembered for his kind heart. “Pat was one of the kindest individuals you will come across,” Dan said. “He was willing to do anything for anyone at the drop of a hat and he was always there to pick you up in your darkest hour, often with a perfectly timed joke or movie quote.”
Pat will also be remembered as a legend. “In our last practice together, Pat hit a half-court shot at the end of practice,” Dan said. “It was the first time in four years that Pat had made it and his reaction was priceless, as he lifted his arms and gave a yell in triumph.”
Pat’s department at UMPI hopes to have a plaque placed outside of the AT room in remembrance of his vibrant soul.