As the entire world prepares for more than 200 countries and 10,000 athletes to compete on its biggest stage during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from Aug. 5-21, the Fairmont State University community will have one of its own competing as a member of the USA Men’s Rugby Sevens Team.
Perry Baker, a former Fairmont State football standout and a 2013 graduate of the Criminal Justice program at FSU, was named to Team USA Rugby Sevens Olympic team on Monday, July 18.
Baker, a wide receiver and playmaker for the Falcons from Daytona Beach, Fla., was a two-time All-West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference performer at receiver from 2006-2010, including a first team selection and Don Hansen Football Gazette All-Region second team pick as a sophomore. Baker also earned WVIAC honorable mention accolades as a senior and earned top senior honors in 2010 by being named the male recipient of the Jasper H. Colebank Memorial Award. The award is presented to the senior who has done the most to promote the best interest of athletics at Fairmont State.
For his Fighting Falcons career, Baker racked up 90 receptions for 1,552 yards and 19 touchdowns while wearing the maroon and white. Baker’s 19 touchdown receptions are currently tied for third in school history. Baker was also on the receiving end of the eighth-longest pass in school history when quarterback Vick Bradford connected with him on a 76-yard pass against West Virginia Wesleyan back on Oct. 25, 2008.
Earlier that season, Baker also tied a school record with five touchdowns in a game to lead the Falcons past nationally-ranked Shepherd in a wild 46-42 win over the Rams. In addition, Baker also rushed for the second-highest total in Duvall-Rosier Field history when he carried the ball 12 times for 244 yards against Seton Hill University on Nov. 1, 2008. That performance marked the only player in the country to rush for over 200 yards on less than 15 carries during the 2008 season.
Following his senior season at Fairmont State, Baker was selected to play in the East/West Shrine Game and Cactus Bowl, getting a chance to play in front of National Football League scouts. Baker was a 2011 NFL Draft prospect and was invited to training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles following the draft.
Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia, Baker failed a physical when one of the team doctors discovered a torn
“After the injury was discovered, I returned to Dr. Chris Courtney for the surgery in Fairmont, where he explained my injury as a ‘hang nail tear,’” said Baker. “Following surgery it was recommended that I play in the Arena league to show off my skills and movements to NFL scouts.”
After spending two years in the Arena Football League as a member of the Pittsburgh Power, Baker returned to Ohio to run and learn the game of Rugby Sevens.
“After two years in the AFL, I began training in Ohio for my dream of being an Olympic athlete with Team USA Rugby,” Baker continued. “After spending a year with my Club team in Ohio training and learning the game and after playing in a tournament in Cancun, Mexico, during the summer of 2014, I was invited to the Olympic Training Center for a tryout and got offered a partial-contract to join the Residency Program two days later. From that point, it was one of those ‘the rest is history kind of deals,’ and I have been competing with the USA Rugby team since.”
Dr. Greg Noone, Director of the FSU National Security and Intelligence Program and Associate Professor of Political Science and Law, helped establish rugby as a Club Sport team at FSU through the Department of Intramurals. He and his wife, Dr. Diana Noone, Chair of Social Sciences and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at FSU, have stayed in touch with Baker throughout his rugby career.
“Perry has set the rugby world on fire! The international press has been buzzing about Perry for the last two years. He was the first American ever nominated as a finalist for the World Rugby Sevens Series Rookie of the Year following the 2014-2015 season. During the 2015-2016 season, Perry was selected to the World Rugby Sevens Series Dream Team consisting of the seven best players in the world,” Dr. Greg Noone said. “Perry has led the USA Eagles in scoring tries (rugby’s version of a touchdown) and scored four in one match in a huge win against the mighty New Zealand All Blacks. I encourage each of you to Google ‘Perry Baker tries’ and watch any of the many exciting plays that have captivated rugby fans.”
Fairmont State University hosted a community party on Thursday, July 28, in the second floor Nickel area of the Falcon Center. During this party, FSU shot video to create a good luck video for Baker. The video will be shared on FSU’s web site and social media.