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Linfield College director of athletics Scott Carnahan did not wait long, nor did he need to look far, to locate his next women’s tennis coach and NCAA Compliance Officer.
Lisa Macy-Baker, a Hall of Fame athlete and accomplished tennis coach from McMinnville High School, joins the Linfield coaching staff, replacing Amy Dames Smith, who resigned Aug. 5 to accept a position as Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Academics at Concordia University of Portland.
Macy-Baker assumes leadership of one of the top women’s tennis programs in the Northwest Conference. In the span of 10 seasons, Dames Smith led the Wildcats to six NWC titles and three invitations to the NCAA Division III regional playoffs.
Macy-Baker coached girls tennis for four seasons at McMinnville High School, leading the Grizzlies to a 51-20 dual-match record, a district and league-tournament title, and a fifth-place finish at the Oregon Class 6A state championship tournament in 2010.
She has taught special education in the McMinnville School District since 2006, first at McMinnville High School and more recently as special education case manager at Duniway Middle School.
Macy-Baker served similar roles at Bend’s Mountain View High School while also leading the Bend Metro Parks and Recreation District’s youth tennis summer program.
Her coaching career began as junior varsity girls tennis coach at McMinnville High School in 2002.
A star athlete at McMinnville High in the mid-1990s, Macy-Baker lettered four seasons in both basketball and tennis. A point guard on the basketball court, she was a four-time all-conference and three-time conference most valuable player for the Grizzlies, concluding her career as the school’s career leader in points, steals and assists. In tennis, she competed at the Oregon state tournament all four seasons, and was a two-time district doubles champion.
After receiving her diploma from MHS in 1994, Macy-Baker earned a full-ride scholarship to play basketball at Oregon State University. Though she competed with the Beavers for just one season, Macy-Baker went on to graduate with honors from OSU in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in general science. She later completed a master’s degree in special education at Portland State University in 2002.
“I’m very confident Lisa is going to do a fantastic job with our women’s tennis program and in our compliance office,” said Carnahan. “Having seen her perform as a high school athlete, I know first-hand how competitive she is. I’m very, very excited to see her join our staff.”
Macy-Baker is eager to embrace her new role as a college athletics administrator and coach.
“Growing up in McMinnville, I always felt a part of Linfield athletics,” she said, reflecting on her frequent participation in basketball camps and tennis camps and lessons at the college.
“I have some big shoes to fill. Amy has done a terrific job,” Macy-Baker said. “Taking over an established program makes my job a lot easier. In talking a lot about the program with Amy, I’ve learned that our coaching philosophies are similar.”
Though her personal experience in college athletics came at the major-college level, Macy-Baker is intrigued by the balance afforded both athletes and coaches at the small-college level.
“I’m gaining a better appreciation and understanding of the Division III experience,” she said. “Some of the things I did not like about Division I are not present in Division III. Students come to Linfield primarily for the academic opportunities, but also for the experience of competing in a quality athletic program.”
Monitoring the academic progress and athletic eligibility of Linfield’s nearly 500 student-athletes presents a new career challenge for Macy-Baker, who has spent the better part of her life involved in sports.
“The skill set that’s demanded in the area of compliance speaks to a similar skill set I have had to utilize as an educator.”
She looks forward to building strong relationships with the athletes she coaches and interacts with.
“I’m see the benefit of a four-year athletic experience and how that influence the adult our students become,” Macy-Baker said. “The things you learn as a student-athlete prepare young people to become better members of society.”
Lisa and her husband, Ron, live in McMinnville with their 2½-year-old daughter, Cameron.