Several weeks ago, I interviewed Firetails Assistant Coach Karen “KP” Baker about her frisbee career, her role with the Firetails, and her thoughts on the campaign.
Since this conversation was conducted over the phone, I took hand-written notes. This re-typed account of that conversation should be regarded as an accurate account of our discussion and meets the relevant evidentiary standards for the Australian criminal justice system.
You’re currently living and playing ultimate in Melbourne. Talk us through your career as a player.
I started in 2003, and played my first Nationals in 2004 with WA in Brisbane. Then I moved to the UK and was a founding member of Iceni (a south London women’s club) in 2005. I played the 2006 World Ultimate Club Championships with Iceni and then returned to Australia to play with Ishtar and then STBAU in Melbourne. I played WUCC 2010 with Iceni, was on the first Australian Flying Foxes team at WUGC in Sakai in 2012, and went with STBAU to WUCC in Lecco in 2014.
You’ve also done a bunch of coaching.
Yep. If I may speak in dot points, I’ve done:
- 2008, Assistant Coach of Southern Terra (which won silver and spirit)
- 2010, Assistant Coach of Southern Terra
- 2012, Head Coach of Southern Terra
And, of course, Assistant Coach of the 2016 Firetails. I’ve also done coaching for uni teams in Melbourne, development days, juniors events and selected for U23s teams. You could say I’m one of Australia’s most experienced juniors coaches, who’s had a good perspective on the development pathway for young frisbee players on Australian representative teams. But you’ll have to say that, because I won’t. I’m much too modest.
I will say that. It certainly explains why you knew all the young players during Firetails tryouts.
Yes. I can also read minds.
I see… What made you want to get involved with the Firetails and what strengths do you bring to the team?
Part of my interest in the Firetails came from the 2014 WUCC campaign with STBAU. It was amazing to be part of a really cohesive and well structured campaign, and the team had some similar ideas and strategies to what the Firetails were planning for 2016.
I was also keen to be involved with a senior team at Worlds, and since there’s not really an opportunity for me to do that as a player right now, it made sense to do it as a coach.
I bring the Firetails a sense of calm, good listening skills, and genuine concern about our wellbeing and development as players and people.
Also you can operate Google Calendars.
That’s not really a strength of mine so much as a weakness of yours. You just click in the square and type in the details you –
Enough of this sorcery. What are the biggest challenges that you and the team face throughout the campaign?
The biggest challenge for the team is coming together as a strong and cohesive unit. Lots of teams talk about this, but the fact that it’s such an amazing experience playing on a genuinely cohesive team shows that it’s still quite rare. We’ve made progress on this, and it’s certainly happening, but there’s more to do.
One of the difficulties with this kind of cohesion is that you don’t really know how it’s going until you get tested. Everything’s fine while you’re winning, but when you’re down a few points in a big game you see the real story. Early signs are good for us, but we’re still waiting for our first proper test.
For me, the biggest challenge is making time for frisbee. I’ve got a young family which means there’s always plenty to do away from the field. This is also a longer campaign and my first time coaching a senior team, so I need to stay confident and rise to the extra technical coaching challenges that this team presents. Finally, I really coach through the individuals on the team, so I have a lot of personal relationships to build with all of our athletes.
And what have you enjoyed the most so far?
Getting to know players who I’ve only interacted with as opponents, and seeing players change from being opponents or outsiders to teammates.
What about making the team do heaps of endzone shuttles?
That’s always your idea. You must like it.
Every camp. You say something like “We should make them run 75 shuttles on Saturday morning.” And Kylie and I say something like “Seriously? That’s a lot. On Saturday morning?” and you say “Yep. It’ll be fun. LOL.”
No. That never happens.
Oh I can’t believe you’re going to pretend that isn’t your idea.
Well, it has been great talking.
OK, OK. Fine. One last question. We need some controversy to get people interested. Drive more social media buzz. Who’s your favourite Firetail?
Whoa. I’m not answering that! I don’t even have a favourite.
C’mon. It’ll be good for marketing. Pick anyone. What about Ellie?
Ellie? No way. She’s not even in my top three.
Ouch! She’s always happy and smiling and stuff, surely that counts for something?
Cold. Well, there you have it folks. KP doesn’t like Ellie. I thought KP liked everyone.
LOL. No. I’m faking it.
Thanks for your time, KP.
Credit to John Horan for the words.